Adapting to Drought: Farmers, Famines and Desertification in by Michael Mortimore

By Michael Mortimore

This e-book embodies the result of 13 years of study in drought-prone rural parts within the semi-arid quarter of northern Nigeria. It describes the styles of adaptive behaviour saw between Hausa, Ful'be and Manga groups according to recurrent drought within the Seventies and Eighties. The query of desertification is explored in a space the place the obvious facts of relocating sand dunes is dramatic blame are tested relating to the sector proof. A critique is available of deterministic theories and authoritarian recommendations. Professor Mortimore demonstrates a parallel among the observable resilience of semi-arid ecosystems and the adaptive thoughts of the human groups that inhabit them and indicates coverage instructions for strengthening that resilience.

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Additional resources for Adapting to Drought: Farmers, Famines and Desertification in West Africa

Example text

The tudu soils could support only rain-fed farming, and grazing was restricted, in the dry season, to crop residues, dry grass of the last rainy season, or browse. The vegetation communities were unstable and discontinuous, as farming, grazing, cutting and burning acted upon the variable pattern of soils. Already the broad ecological zones (Southern and Northern Guinea, Sudan, and Sahel savannas) were becoming harder to distinguish from the patchwork of farmed parkland, newly cleared fields, fallows, reserved woodland and various types of secondary woodland that reflected both ecological and land-use competition.

For such, the most important time period is the rainy season as a whole (June—September), but within this period, the distribution of rainfall in periods as short as ten days ('decades' as defined by Kowal and Knabe (1972)) may also be critical. There is no simple relationship between drought and hunger (or famine), since food production is governed by other factors besides the rainfall, and the efficacy of insurance, storage and distribution systems is variable, between places, between social groups, and at different times.

An appropriate methodological response would be micro-scale studies of household welfare, including intra-household transactions, and of the position of women, the young and the Method 21 aged. But not only would an intimate longitudinal study of selected (and perhaps reluctant) families be required, but the series would have to start before the onset of the first major drought. Such was beyond the resources available for the present study. 19 In an analysis of spatial mobility as a form of response to drought and food shortage (chapter 5) reliance is again placed on survey method (supported by case studies), in order to obtain information from larger samples, but the longitudinal profile of chapter 4 provides a time perspective in which to place the spatial patterns.

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