By Michael Mortimore
This publication embodies the result of 13 years of analysis in drought-prone rural parts within the semi-arid sector of northern Nigeria. It describes the styles of adaptive behaviour saw between Hausa, Ful'be and Manga groups in keeping with recurrent drought within the Nineteen 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 in terms of the sphere proof. A critique is accessible of deterministic theories and authoritarian strategies. Professor Mortimore demonstrates a parallel among the observable resilience of semi-arid ecosystems and the adaptive techniques of the human groups that inhabit them and indicates coverage instructions for strengthening that resilience.
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Extra resources for Adapting to Drought: Farmers, Famines and Desertification in West Africa
Elsewhere broad-leaved trees dry up one by one and die; they are not replaced by young individuals but, instead, thorn trees gather as if favoured by a dry season that has become longer and more arid... During the dry season, the whole of Africa burns, lines of fire running everywhere, chased by the dry winds, no portion left undamaged; this is a sign for great rejoicing among the people, because the time for hunting rats is come. Thus we see how tropical Africa would be transformed if the 'savanisation' towards which she is fast proceeding were some day to be accomplished.
A review of hydrological drought in northern Nigeria has, by contrast, to be based on very inadequate data which are not yet free from ambiguity. Such data are not available at all for physical indicators of desertification. ' in a defined area, methods have been devised (chapter 7) using a combination of air photo interpretation, published resource inventories, field measurements, and interviews with resident observers. 2. The analysis shows the possibility of arriving at firm conclusions about ecological degradation in the medium to long term using inexpensive methods.
A study of charcoal production in the hinterland of Khartoum showed that between 1960 and 1980 the northern limit of charcoal burning shifted south by an average of 15—20 km per year, owing to the cutting of suitable trees and the absence of regeneration (Berry, 1984a: 64—5). Such a trend is as likely due to Khartoum's appetite for fuel as to any climatic shift. A large literature on desertification (see Leng, 1982) has grown out of a less pessimistic tradition of arid zone research in the 1950s (see UNESCO; White, 1955; Hills, 1966).