Project of check-dam for land [China]

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  • Update:
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approaches_2450 - China

Completeness: 94%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Approach

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
Northwest A&F University (NWAFU) - China

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Reference(s) to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Technologies

Check dam for land

Check dam for land [China]

Check dam for land is a structural SLM practice that is constructed in the valley of a watershed in order to slow down the runoff and increase sedimentation. After this, the land quality of the controlling area will increase because soil and water conditions in this place are improved.

  • Compiler: Fei WANG

2. Description of the SLM Approach

2.1 Short description of the Approach

Approach of check dam for land is a kind of soil and water conservation activity to reduce the sediment discharge and improve the agricultural condition through building a dam across the valley in order to silt the sediment from upstream untill it convert to land with few soil erosion and flash floods.

2.2 Detailed description of the Approach

Detailed description of the Approach:

Aims / objectives: The aims of this approach are to reduce sediment discharge of the rivers and to create cropland in the valley. A wall across the valley is built to hold up the muddy flash flood and to slow down the runoff and to silt the sediment. The water in the check dam could be used as waterbody or discharge as clear water. The local farmers and governments want to improve the agricultural condition in the valley near to village and select the check dam for land.

Methods: Normally the farmers and the local experts judge the feasibility of the technology firstly and then apply the support of local government. The construction should be finished by group (village) with labour input combining with finicial support outside.

Stages of implementation: The first stage to implenment this technology is to call on the local farmers with benefits show of such technologies. Then, an application should be submitted to local gevernment. After getting the support, the construction begin.

Role of stakeholders: The local farmers, experts and local government are main participants in this approach.

2.3 Photos of the Approach

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Approach has been applied



Region/ State/ Province:

Shaanxi Province

Further specification of location:

Baota County, Yan'an City


The total area with different measures is almost 2000 km2 . Yanhe River is a first class branch of Yellow River, China. The average channel slope is 3.26‰, and the area of whole basin is 7,687 km2. It is situated in the semi-arid North Temperate Zone with an average annual precipitation varying from 500 to 550 mm, and an average annual air temperature ranging from 8.5 to 11.4℃. It is in hilly gull

2.6 Dates of initiation and termination of the Approach

Indicate year of initiation:


Year of termination (if Approach is no longer applied):


2.7 Type of Approach

  • project/ programme based

2.8 Main aims/ objectives of the Approach

The Approach focused mainly on SLM with other activities (Structural practices; crop land; reduction of sediment load downstream)

1. it reduces the sediment load of the downstream or main river. 2. it improves the agricultural condition through the gain of new cropland in the valleys; 3. it reduces the soil erosion of gullies by down-cutting erosion; 4. it to reduces the gravity erosion or collapse of slopes because the land would increase the stability of slopes. 5. it designs the check dam well and search funds in order to construct the check dam.

The SLM Approach addressed the following problems: The problems include: lack of flat areas for crop production, high soil erosion on the slopes, poverty induced by low production, requirement of sediment control , lack of cash, and so on.

2.9 Conditions enabling or hindering implementation of the Technology/ Technologies applied under the Approach

availability/ access to financial resources and services
  • hindering

the input for a check dam is high for small households and villages

Treatment through the SLM Approach: financial support from outside such as local or central governemnt, or the management organization of water basin.

legal framework (land tenure, land and water use rights)
  • enabling

The existing land ownership, land use rights / water rights greatly helped the approach implementation: The approach has many advantages for the different stakeholders. The existing land ownship, land user rights and water rights could help the approach implementation.

knowledge about SLM, access to technical support
  • hindering

A huge flood would destroy the dam

Treatment through the SLM Approach: To improve the quality which is depending on calculation of the possibility of flood and during extrem storms the control area of the dam.

3. Participation and roles of stakeholders involved

3.1 Stakeholders involved in the Approach and their roles

  • local land users/ local communities

Some check dams were implemented by villagers, before

The land area of local farmers is very small, and the decision at the village level should be decided by the group.

  • SLM specialists/ agricultural advisers

The geologist designs the site of engineering, the hydyologist designs the ability of dam according the strom records and landform of the basin; the civil engineers design the number of engineers.

They can evaluate the properity of check dam for land and design it

  • local government

The departments with certification to implement

They decide the planning of soil and water conservation.

  • national government (planners, decision-makers)

By politicians / leaders

3.2 Involvement of local land users/ local communities in the different phases of the Approach
Involvement of local land users/ local communities Specify who was involved and describe activities
initiation/ motivation self-mobilization the local farmers and village head involved normally. They could build the check dam before but they submit the proposal for the building now.
planning external support the experts in hydrology, soil erosion, landform involved. They survey, calculate and design the check dam.
implementation interactive
monitoring/ evaluation none
Research none

3.3 Flow chart (if available)


Organization Chart of check dam land.


Wang Fei (Yangling, China)

3.4 Decision-making on the selection of SLM Technology/ Technologies

Specify who decided on the selection of the Technology/ Technologies to be implemented:
  • politicians/ leaders

the high input is mainly from the government. Specialist also play a very important role in decision making.

Decisions on the method of implementing the SLM Technology were made by mainly by SLM specialists with consultation of land users. the specialists are the conductor according the natural condition and the requirement of the land users.

4. Technical support, capacity building, and knowledge management

4.1 Capacity building/ training

Was training provided to land users/ other stakeholders?


Specify who was trained:
  • land users
  • field staff/ advisers
Form of training:
  • demonstration areas
  • public meetings

4.2 Advisory service

Do land users have access to an advisory service?


Specify whether advisory service is provided:
  • on land users' fields
  • at permanent centres
Describe/ comments:

Consultation and Discussion; Key elements: Determine and classify the questions and problems of the project, Analysis the problems and discussion it wth the relative experts, Explain the whole condition of the project to the participants; it is not so difficult in the Loess Plateau because the local farmers are familiar with the check dam for land more or less.

Advisory service is quite adequate to ensure the continuation of land conservation activities; the technology is not new in the Yan River Basin

4.3 Institution strengthening (organizational development)

Have institutions been established or strengthened through the Approach?
  • yes, a little
Specify the level(s) at which institutions have been strengthened or established:
  • local
Specify type of support:
  • capacity building/ training
Give further details:

To show the benefits and process of construction for local farmers.

4.4 Monitoring and evaluation

Is monitoring and evaluation part of the Approach?



technical aspects were regular monitored by project staff through measurements; indicators: Professional is necessary in measure and design.

economic / production aspects were regular monitored by project staff, land users through observations; indicators: To know the benefit of project

economic / production aspects were regular monitored by project staff through measurements; indicators: To monitor sometime.

no. of land users involved aspects were regular monitored by government through measurements; indicators: To know how many people participating

management of Approach aspects were regular monitored by government through measurements; indicators: To manage the whole project

There were few changes in the Approach as a result of monitoring and evaluation: the safety of the dam should be checked after flood season in order that the check dam management can be adapted to changing risks.

There were several changes in the Technology as a result of monitoring and evaluation: the sediment from slopes decreased recently, the drainage channel changed to lower level since the stage of designing.

4.5 Research

Was research part of the Approach?


Specify topics:
  • economics / marketing
  • ecology
  • technology
Give further details and indicate who did the research:

The experts should know the important parameters of the technology for improved designing. The researchers also need to judge and evaluate the permission and support of the project based on the econonic and ecological impacts.

Research was carried out both on station and on-farm

5. Financing and external material support

5.1 Annual budget for the SLM component of the Approach

If precise annual budget is not known, indicate range:
  • < 2,000
Comments (e.g. main sources of funding/ major donors):

Approach costs were met by the following donors: government (the input is mainly from government): 90.0%; local community / land user(s) (labour work input): 10.0%

5.2 Financial/ material support provided to land users

Did land users receive financial/ material support for implementing the Technology/ Technologies?


If yes, specify type(s) of support, conditions, and provider(s):

by state

5.3 Subsidies for specific inputs (including labour)

  • equipment
Specify which inputs were subsidised To which extent Specify subsidies
machinery fully financed by government
  • construction
Specify which inputs were subsidised To which extent Specify subsidies
stone fully financed loess around the site of the dam

The labor input is necessary and some time they can get money from government or other families have no time to participate the construction.

The tools of farmers is very simple.

5.4 Credit

Was credit provided under the Approach for SLM activities?


6. Impact analysis and concluding statements

6.1 Impacts of the Approach

Did the Approach help land users to implement and maintain SLM Technologies?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

1. the land in the valley is prone to incision by flash flood, the check dam could prevent the erosion; 2. crop land is very useful for the local farmers because of its good condition of soil properities, the local farmers paid more attention to protect this land;3. the ability of production is hig

Did the Approach empower socially and economically disadvantaged groups?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

agricultural condition improved so that the yield, income and spare time increases. There are no special changes on gender, age and ethnicity induced by this approach.

Did the Approach improve issues of land tenure/ user rights that hindered implementation of SLM Technologies?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

The problem is unlikely to be overcome in the near future. The approach has been approved that the ability of anti-flooding is high. The possible extream storm is out of the consideration till now.

Did other land users / projects adopt the Approach?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

the Ministry of Water Resources of China developed a project for check dam engineering land based on its the integrated functions. The local government and land users (local farmers) also try to find financial support for this project.

Did the Approach lead to improved livelihoods / human well-being?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Stable and high yield, and the relative labor input, of check-dam land could improve livihoods and human well-being; 2. In general cropland land is limited in such an area

Did the Approach help to alleviate poverty?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Stable and high yield, and the relative labor input, of check-dam land could improve livihoods and human well-being; 2. In general cropland land is limited in such an area

6.2 Main motivation of land users to implement SLM

  • increased production

the yield of the check dam land is stable and high

  • reduced workload

the labour work less when getting the same food

  • well-being and livelihoods improvement

the output of labour is higher

6.3 Sustainability of Approach activities

Can the land users sustain what has been implemented through the Approach (without external support)?
  • uncertain
If no or uncertain, specify and comment:

the finicial support of local farmers is limited that makes it impossible to continue, but if the economic condition improved, they might build the check dam for cropland reclamation by themselves.

6.4 Strengths/ advantages of the Approach

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Could get the finicial from government (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: Continue to support the construction at the suitable place)
To create 'good' land for themselves (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: Share the land fairly)
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Make more people know its benefits (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: Show the integrated impacts of project )
Professional design (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: To improve the quanlity of project through field survey and calculation. )
to organize the local farmers working together (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: Plan and make the local farmers to know they can share fairly within the local farmers. )

6.5 Weaknesses/ disadvantages of the Approach and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
very few, sometimes the are is temporary flooded drainage of the flash water on time
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
change of landform can not be overcome
The farmer does not plan to build check dam for land with their own invest New approach is necessary for some farmers or small farmer group to implenment project themselves

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Experiment and Practice of Check Dam Land, Zheng Baoming, Wang Xiao, Tianyonghong, Shangguomei, Mu Zhenlian. 2004

Available from where? Costs?

Yellow River Conservancy Press【YRCP】

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Effect of soil-retaining dams on flood and sediment reduction in middle reaches of Yellow River. Ran Dachuan, Luo Quanhua, Liu Bin, Wang Hong. 2004

Available from where? Costs?


7.3 Links to relevant information which is available online

Title/ description:

Regional Impact of Human Activities on Soil and Water Losses. Wang Fei. PhD thesis, 2004


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