Flat Contour Terraces [Yemen]

المدرجات الكنتورية

technologies_1174 - Yemen

Completeness: 80%

1. General information

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

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:

Sallam Ahmed

Agricultural Research and Extension Authority


Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Agricultural Research and Extension Authority (AREA) - Yemen

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:


1.5 Reference to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Approaches (documented using WOCAT)

leveled mountain terraces

leveled mountain terraces [Yemen]

organized collective action at a high pace for building agricultural terraces to improve livelihoods in resource-scarce regions in the ground

  • Compiler: ahmed algalal

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Old flat terraces were built in accordance with the contour lines and surrounded by stones to create a suitable environment for the growth of crops, slope stabilization and reduce the risk of runoff and increasing water harvesting.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


The Yemeni farmer challenged the nature cruel and adopted to cope with the needs and requirements, including the construction of agricultural terraces utilizing all the resources available in the region, where he worked first on the extraction of soil located on the slopes of the mountains and booked by building a wall of stones around where were collected and brought stones from different places. Walls were built in very geometric creativity very well designed so that they work to minimize the risk of soil erosion and increase the use of water runoff without damages to the established terraces so through the construction of terraces along contour lines and making outlets in each terrace to drain excess water.

The process of building terraces using stones according to the contours, which works to prevent soil erosion and erosion, as well as help to increase soil moisture as a result harvest runoff, which leads to meet the needs of crop water and thereby increase production.

The main objective of building terraces is to increase production. The soil depth at the beginning of the establishment of the stands to be very shallow and increasing soil depth as a result of increasing deposits the soil.This process is booked by increasing the height of the wall that range between 1-3 meters, and a width runway between 1-6 meters As for the length of the runway It is 5 - 80 meters according to the contour line, which runs on reserve deposits and protect the soil from erosion.. Finally terraces are planted with annual crops mainly cereals crops, as well as perennial trees such as coffee, diamond, Qat and other perennial trees.

The terraces of the projects long-term where you need a long time to build due to the use of hands in the construction process as a result you cannot use the mechanisms, for maintenance operations in view of the building stands on the regions of steep and where the rate of runoff high result of heavy rains in a short time in addition to Regression factor that leads to increase the speed of the flow of water, which operate on a cliff erosion terraces in the event of lack of maintenance, which makes the process of ongoing maintenance is an urgent need to ensure the preservation and sustainability of the stands.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Hajah Governorate

Further specification of location:

Kahlan Afar

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area

Total area covered by the SLM Technology is 5.4 km2.

The study area is located in the south west of Fort Kahlan Afar and stretches along the projected water severe slope, and include seven villages spreading from the highest peak of the mountain until the bottom of the valley respectively: Bait guardian, Al Qimmeh, Bait Al Farawi, Al-ubal, Fara'ah, Bani Bram , Wadi (Valley) EabrHajr.

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • more than 50 years ago (traditional)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • as part of a traditional system (> 50 years)
Comments (type of project, etc.):

too old since approximately 2000 BC

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
  • Tree and shrub cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - barley
  • cereals - maize
  • cereals - other
  • cereals - wheat (spring)
  • legumes and pulses - beans
  • lentils
Tree and shrub cropping - Specify crops:
  • coffee, open grown
  • Qat, Diamond
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 2

Longest growing period in days: 240


Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): severe slopes that works to increase the speed of runoff, which leads to soil loss

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

Also mixed rainfed - irrigated

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • cross-slope measure

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A3: Soil surface treatment
structural measures

structural measures

  • S1: Terraces

Secondary measures: agronomic measures

Type of agronomic measures: contour tillage

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
  • Wg: gully erosion/ gullying
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bc: reduction of vegetation cover
water degradation

water degradation

  • Ha: aridification

Secondary types of degradation addressed: Bc: reduction of vegetation cover, Ha: aridification

Main causes of degradation: over-exploitation of vegetation for domestic use, Heavy / extreme rainfall (intensity/amounts) (severe rainfall in a short time), other natural causes (avalanches, volcanic eruptions, mud flows, highly susceptible natural resources, extreme topography, etc.) specify (severe slopes)

Secondary causes of degradation: overgrazing, droughts (As a result of the fluctuation of rainfall), poverty / wealth (Poverty)

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • reduce land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

terraces built along contour lines

Location: Hajah Governorate. Kahlan Afer

Date: 10-2-2013

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: moderate (does not have only a little experience)

Technical knowledge required for land users: low (Has enough experience)

Main technical functions: reduction of slope angle, reduction of slope length, water harvesting / increase water supply, sediment retention / trapping, sediment harvesting, reduction surface runoff

Secondary technical functions: increase of infiltration, water spreading

Contour tillage
Material/ species: agricultural tools, animal traction

Terrace: bench level
Vertical interval between structures (m): 1 - 3
Spacing between structures (m): 1 - 6
Height of bunds/banks/others (m): 1 - 3
Width of bunds/banks/others (m): 1 - 6
Length of bunds/banks/others (m): 5 - 80

Construction material (earth): Collecting soil and reserve deposits to increase the soil depth

Construction material (stone): Stones available in the region

Slope (which determines the spacing indicated above): 65%

If the original slope has changed as a result of the Technology, the slope today is: 0%

Lateral gradient along the structure: 0%

For water harvesting: the ratio between the area where the harvested water is applied and the total area from which water is collected is: 1:1



4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify currency used for cost calculations:
  • USD
Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Extraction of soil Before the rainy season
2. Collecting stones Before the rainy season
3. Build a wall to establish a terrace Before the rainy season

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Extraction of soil ha 1.0 2500.0 2500.0 100.0
Labour Collecting stones ha 1.0 1162.8 1162.8 100.0
Labour Build a wall to establish a terrace ha 1.0 558.0 558.0 100.0
Equipment Tools ha 1.0 46.5 46.5 100.0
Equipment Animal traction ha 1.0 186.0 186.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 4453.3
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 4453.3

Duration of establishment phase: 12 month(s)

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. plowing along contour lines Before planting
2. Repairing damaged walls annually after the rain

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Plowing along contour lines ha 1.0 50.0 50.0 100.0
Labour Repairing damaged walls ha 1.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Equipment Tools ha 1.0 30.0 30.0 100.0
Equipment Animal traction ha 1.0 50.0 50.0 100.0
Equipment Tools ha 1.0 18.6 18.6 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 248.6
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 248.6

Machinery/ tools: Shovel, local plow and a leveler, Shovel, Big hammer

calculated costs an average length of 60 meters along the wall stone and rising 2.5 meters. other operations were calculated per hectare considering that the land users who will carry the implemented works. with respect to maintenance has been calculated taking into account the fact that the stands terraces are considered investments long term and not subject to erosion annually, but in the event of a severe rain storm.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Collecting and transporting stones
Severe slopes

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid
  • semi-arid

Thermal climate class: temperate

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • convex situations
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Slopes on average: 30-80%

Altitudinal zone: 1600- 2700 m a.s.l.

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • low (<1%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil texture (topsoil): Silty Clay loam

Soil fertility is very low

Soil drainage / infiltration is medium - good

Soil water storage capacity is high

5.4 Water availability and quality

Water quality (untreated):

good drinking water

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • low

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • subsistence (self-supply)
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Off-farm income:
  • less than 10% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • very poor
  • poor
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • animal traction
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Land users applying the Technology are mainly common / average land users

Difference in the involvement of women and men: physically women to carry hard work, so the man who does the work on the farm and women are household.

Population density: 200-500 persons/km2

Annual population growth: 3% - 4%

20% of the land users are average wealthy and own 30% of the land.
65% of the land users are poor and own 50% of the land.
15% of the land users are poor and own 20% of the land.

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • medium-scale

The average land tenure of between 0.5 - 2 hectares

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, titled
Land use rights:
  • leased
  • individual
  • Waqf
Water use rights:
  • communal (organized)
  • Waqf

There are three types of land ownership owned, hired and Waqf by 74%, 19%, 7%, respectively.

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production


fodder production


risk of production failure


production area


land management

Water availability and quality

drinking water availability

Comments/ specify:

As a result of the infiltration process

Income and costs

farm income




Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency


cultural opportunities


SLM/ land degradation knowledge


livelihood and human well-being


Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

water quantity


harvesting/ collection of water


surface runoff


excess water drainage


groundwater table/ aquifer


soil moisture


soil loss

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

plant diversity


habitat diversity


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

water availability


downstream flooding


downstream siltation

Comments/ specify:

reduction of sediments

6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase well

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm not well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly negative

Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:

very positive

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • > 50%
If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):

994 households covering 100 percent of stated area

Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 91-100%

994 land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

There is a little trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

Comments on adoption trend: because the technology is adopted in the whole Yemen, but there is difficulty with regard to the sustainability of technical maintenance due to lack of financial resources and poverty which leads to migration and lack of interest in the land

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Creating a suitable environment for the growth of various crops

How can they be sustained / enhanced? continue the process of maintenance to maintain walls and outlets
Water harvesting to increase soil moisture

How can they be sustained / enhanced? maintenance of water outlet constantly ensure that no water erosion by allowing excess water to drain out through the outlets.
reduce runoff and Prevention of soil erosion

How can they be sustained / enhanced? ongoing maintenance of outlets.
discharge excess water in a systematic manner

How can they be sustained / enhanced? ongoing maintenance of water exits
reduce the length and angle of the slope

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Maintaining the terraces

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Low productivity in the first years of the Created stands terraces due to poor soil fertility and lack of depth apply fertilizer and chemical and organic fertilizers
In the event of very heavy rain may be susceptible to erosion terraces ongoing maintenance of the waterways and channels to ensure that no diversion of water to areas prone to erosion and maintenance of the walls of the terraces and drain excess water.
Due to the construction of terraces on the hillsides with steep slopes, which makes it difficult to use farm machinery and agricultural work is done by hand, which requires many labor somewhat the search for new technologies that fit this purpose

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Mountain terraces study in the Kahlan Afar region (Mashreqi, et, al 2003)- 44. General Census of Population, Housing and Establishment (Census, 2004).- 45. Guide of agricultural climate in Yemen (Al Khorasani, 2005).

Available from where? Costs?

Agricultural Research and Extension Authority, AREA Central Bureau of Statistics.Agricultural Research and Extension Authority, AREA

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