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Aad Kessler

and 5 more

Stopping land degradation is one of the biggest challenges worldwide and particularly in Burundi, which currently faces unprecedented rates of soil loss and food insecurity. This paper proposes a different development discourse on how to stop land degradation, and presents results and lessons learned of a bottom-up inclusive approach implemented since 2014 in Burundi: the Integrated Farm Planning approach (PIP) approach. This approach aims to build a solid foundation for sustainable change towards enhanced food production and good land stewardship, based on three foundation principles (motivation, stewardship and resilience) and three guiding principles (empowerment, integration and collaboration). Findings from an impact study on the PIP approach and testimonies of farmers from a qualitative study show profound changes in land management practices and diversity of activities on the farm, as well as in the social cohesion in households and villages. Based on a vision and a plan, nearly 80,000 motivated households are currently actively involved to stop land degradation and make their farms more productive, while in all PIP villages concrete collective action is undertaken for sustainable land stewardship. Given that these actions are widespread and come along with a change in mind-set rooted in all three foundation principles, the paper concludes that the PIP approach is able to effectively build a foundation for sustainable change. Five key lessons from this experience reveal the key elements of a different development discourse that actually motivates and mobilises farmers to stop land degradation.