Study title
WOCAT – World Overview of Conservation, Approaches and Technologies
Ref study 4213
Study language German
Contributing institutions
  • @evaluation
  • Participation
  • Conservation approaches and technologies
  • Economy
  • Global database
  • Global network
  • Handbook and expert system
  • Land tenure
  • Land user´s perception
  • Soil conservation
  • @kfpe
Present time, including experiences made over the last 20-30 years.
Geographical space
Global; with focus on Africa (1995-98)
Programme goal: The overall goal of WOCAT is to contribute to sustainable utilisation of soil and water in agriculture and to reduce soil degradation world-wide by:
- developing a globally applicable framework for the evaluation of soil and water conservation (SWC);
- promoting a better understanding on SWC issues;
- enhancing the exchange of knowledge on SWC;
- promoting successful SWC Technologies and Approaches;
- by setting regional priorities for future intervention.
Programme description: Soil degradation, through the process of soil erosion on the one hand, and biological, chemical and physical deterioration on the other hand, has been increasing steadily in recent decades and has reached a scale of truly global proportions. However, no systematic description and analysis exists of past and present soil and water conservation (SWC) projects, and no global exchange of knowledge on SWC has been organized, which implies that lessons have rarely been drawn from past and ongoing projects in order to improve the design of new soil conservation projects. If this had been done, expensive failures could have been avoided. Soil and water conservation are basic conditions for improving and stabilising agricultural productivity and for attaining food self-sufficiency. Relatively little attention has also been paid to the socio-economic and political constraints to soil conservation and to the identification of strategies to maximise the participation of the population. Traditional strategies for soil and water conservation have not always been recognised and were systematically underestimated.
The WOCAT Programme has been set up to tackle these shortcomings. Launched in 1992, WOCAT is a project of the World Association of Soil and Water Conservation (WASWC), in collaboration with several institutions. WOCAT is being co-ordinated by the Group for Development and Environment (GDE). It aims to promote the integration of successful soil and water conservation (SWC) into land use systems world-wide. The overall goal for the actual Phase 2 of WOCAT (1995-1998) is to launch
- the global data collection on soil and water conservation activities;
- the development of a database and expert system, and
- the compilation of handbooks on technologies, reports on approaches, and overview maps.
Based on past experience, this will be done by organising regional workshops covering each about 6 million km2 of land. Given the fact that many international organisations are highly interested to support WOCAT particularly on the African continent (both financially as well as institutionally), such a focus will be given during Phase 2, with the production of WOCAT outputs for Africa at the end of Phase 2. However, the WOCAT coordination will simultaneously assure that an organisational and financial strategy for covering other regions can be pursued depending on further commitments and interests.
The network and core collaborators and institutions of WOCAT have been identified and the collaboration has been developed. Apart from the main collaborating institutions over 300 professionals have indicated their interest in WOCAT and over 150 SWC specialists belonging to over 100 institutions world-wide have announced their interest in contributing to WOCAT.
The methodology of information collection has been established during several workshops. It became clear that the collection of information on SWC Technologies and Approaches and the mapping of SWC needed a holistic approach towards soil and water management and thus a proper development of a framework for the evaluation of SWC to be used world-wide. This included the development of comprehensive questionnaires including all relevant aspects on the socio-economic and ecological environment, technical, organisational, institutional and political aspects. In order to ease the comparison and the data storage as well as the access to the data structured questionnaires for SWC Technologies, SWC Approaches and for the SWC Map were developed and tested. The methodology of data collection through regional workshops was chosen.
A prototype of the database and expert system have been developed with additional inputs of ISRIC and FAO.
Additional funding and collaboration have been identified: collaboration with and support by ISRIC, RMES, RSCU/SIDA, FAO, UNEP, CDCS, OSS/GTZ established; funding by IDRC, FAO, UNEP, RSCU/SIDA, OSS/GTZ organized; additional funding opportunities discussed (e.g. proposals to EU and World Bank).
WOCAT has been given a topical focus for the ISCO conference in 1996: At the 9th International Soil Conservation Organization (ISCO) Conference of 1996 in Bonn, WOCAT was given special emphasis by:
- inviting and sponsoring about 35 African country representatives and collaborators for WOCAT;
- allowing about 20-30 stand (out of the total of approx. 100 stands) for the "Dare to Share" exhibition;
- allowing major presentations during the Conference sessions.
Methods (description)
Research design: periodicity, unique survey.
Selection: selected experts and expert groups.
Number/size: over 150 experts in over 100 institutions world over.
Methods of analysis: statistical analysis, text analysis.
Data collection: standardized comprehensive questionnaires; informal discussions, workshops and seminars. Much of data collection organized by means of regional workshops including contributing expert groups.
Methods (instruments)
Replicated study No
Unpublished documents
  • Hurni, H.; Liniger, H.. 1995. Questionnaire on SWC Technologies, A Framework for the Evaluation of Soil and Water Conservation. 1995.
  • Hurni, H.; Liniger H., . 1995. Questionnaire on SWC Approaches, A Framework for the Evaluation of Soil and Water Conservation. 1995.
Financed by

Mandating institution(s)
  • Eidg. Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten - EDA, Direktion für Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit - DEZA, Freiburgstrasse 130, 3003 Bern
Ethical approval No
Study type
Data availability
Source (Updates) Web
Date created 09.10.2013
Date modified 09.10.2013
Start - End date 01.01.1991 - 28.12.1998