We have been promoting the modern concept of VGT since 1986, nearly 34 years, and even though most of the evidence from research trials and the field show that VGT in its many forms works well and is accepted by users, the rate of expansion in the use of the technology is not accelerating fast enough, particularly in the light of current global needs to mitigate climate change generated problems relating to land and water. I have recently been writing about the use of vetiver for river bank stabilization, a practice that is proven and being used effectively in a number of countries. A yet to be published paper that reviews the West Bengal (India) river bank stabilization program reaches the following conclusions:
VGT did what it was supposed to do and applications resulted in stabilization of river banks and the local communities were generally happy with the technology that it is more effective (superior) and much less costly than engineered structures. Some of the more important conclusions of the review included: (a) the need to create appropriate policies that will encourage the use of vetiver (b) the need to develop effective technical specifications that can be incorporated into design manuals (c) the need for support to communities, both financially and technically to effectively use VGT (d) better involvement of local communities in the selection and design of riverbank stabilization sites (e) educating/informing communities in the many other applications and benefits of vetiver that would be of value to them (e) the need to develop appropriate mechanisms to allow smoother implementation of community based vetiver based schemes (f) the lack of interest and understanding by the engineers of the organizations responsible for drawing up design solutions for using biological solutions, particularly vetiver, and (g) the inability of community individuals (most of whom have daily income of less than $2) to fund river bank improvements or any other conservation activities without outside help.
These conclusions are not new and are not confined just to West Bengal, but rather are generally a global phenomena. Three key things have to be done: (1) creation of policies, including technical specifications and guidelines, at various levels of government that support biological solutions including vetiver (2) educate both professionals and communities in the technology and (3) find funding solutions that can be executed rapidly.
Comments are welcome!!