Sustainable land management using controlled gullying in 'jagidol' areas

An indigenous technology to help control channelled water during the rainy season and conserve it during the dry season

For more than two centuries, local farmers have promoted soil and water conservation by protecting the gullies which occur naturally between rice terraces; thus the land area is called ‘jagidol’ (jagi=rice, dol=gully). The small perennial streams which flow through the terraces are protected by constructing check dams and retaining walls to reduce the danger of erosion and collapse.

During the monsoon, the channels or trenches can become engorged and, since their walls are not reinforced (except for grass planted at the edges), the conduits can be easily eroded. When the erosion is severe enough, the edges of the terraces adjacent to the gullies can collapse. When many gullies collapse at once, the stability of the entire hillside is threatened with catastrophic consequences for the village situated above the planting area. Villagers have traditionally used local materials and expertise to maintain the gullies and reduce soil erosion by building retaining walls across the slope which are strengthened through plantation. The retaining walls are bio-engineered using a combination of bamboo poles, rocks, and soil-filled sacks. Bamboo poles are used for the backbone of the support structure, and rocks and soil-filled sacks are used to line the sides of the channel. Local grasses such as 'sitto' are planted on the top and, as they grow, their roots help to anchor the structure. When the channels are fortified by retaining walls and planting, they become entrenched and, over time, less maintenance is required. As a bonus, when the plants grown along the gullies mature, they provide biomass for the farm and fodder for cattle. During winter, when water is scarce, farmers modify the gully system by constructing check dams which can be used to collect water in one place. These dams are useful for irrigation during the dry season and they also help to prevent bed scouring.

WOCAT database reference: QT NEP 25

Location: Sharada Batase VDC,

Kabhrepalanchok District, Nepal

Technology area: 1.1 km2

Conservation measure(s): Vegetative, structural, and management measures

Land Use: Waterways, drainage channels, ponds, dams 

Stage of intervention: Mitigation/reduction of land degradation

Origin: Has been practised for generations by the local communities

Climate: Subhumid/sub-tropical

Related approach: Gullies – a traditional sustainable land management practice (QA NEP 25)

Other related technology: Gully plugging using check dams (QT NEP 14)

Compiled by: Sabita Aryal Khanna, Kathmandu University

Date: December 2010, updated March 2013