Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Peter F. Korsching


In the West African country of Burkina Faso, soil erosion has long been a concern. The national government has perceived soil erosion a problem for over a quarter of a century. Although institutional support and practices to control the severity of soil erosion are available, attempts to address the problem have met with limited success. This limited success may be related to lack of consideration of the local indigenous knowledge as a restraining factor. Farmers may be reluctant to adopt conservation practices unfamiliar to them;This study, conducted in two villages in the northwestern Burkina Faso investigates the important role of indigenous knowledge of soil as it affects farmers' conservation behavior. The prominent role of indigenous knowledge is assessed among other important variables suggested by the adoption/diffusion literature such as structural and institutional factors, farmers' personal characteristics, their specific knowledge of soil erosion problems, attitudes toward risk and goals in farming;Thus, a modified adoption/diffusion model was tested, under the guidance of risk and balance theories. Risk is tied to the uncertainty that surrounds any unfamiliar innovation, and balance theory to the influence of significant other individuals or groups within the local social system;Indigenous knowledge was found to have limited effect on farmers' adoption behavior as well as farmers' knowledge of soil erosion problems, their attitudes toward risk and goals in farming. Structural and institutional factors were found to have a stronger effect on farmers' conservation behavior, followed by farmers' access to information. Also, the findings did not support risk and balance theories, as farmers' willingness to take risks and the influence of local individuals or groups had little effect on farmers' adoption behavior. Finally, the overall results provided little support to the modified classical adoption/diffusion model.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Basga Emile Dialla



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

204 pages