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

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This book embodies the results of thirteen years of research in drought-prone rural areas in the semi-arid zone of northern Nigeria. It describes the patterns of adaptive behaviour observed among Hausa, Ful'be and Manga communities in response to recurrent drought in the 1970s and 1980s. The question of desertification is explored in an area where the visible evidence of m This book embodies the results of thirteen years of research in drought-prone rural areas in the semi-arid zone of northern Nigeria. It describes the patterns of adaptive behaviour observed among Hausa, Ful'be and Manga communities in response to recurrent drought in the 1970s and 1980s. The question of desertification is explored in an area where the visible evidence of moving sand dunes is dramatic blame are examined in relation to the field evidence. A critique is offered of deterministic theories and authoritarian solutions. Professor Mortimore demonstrates a parallel between the observable resilience of semi-arid ecosystems and the adaptive strategies of the human communities that inhabit them and suggests policy directions for strengthening that resilience.


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This book embodies the results of thirteen years of research in drought-prone rural areas in the semi-arid zone of northern Nigeria. It describes the patterns of adaptive behaviour observed among Hausa, Ful'be and Manga communities in response to recurrent drought in the 1970s and 1980s. The question of desertification is explored in an area where the visible evidence of m This book embodies the results of thirteen years of research in drought-prone rural areas in the semi-arid zone of northern Nigeria. It describes the patterns of adaptive behaviour observed among Hausa, Ful'be and Manga communities in response to recurrent drought in the 1970s and 1980s. The question of desertification is explored in an area where the visible evidence of moving sand dunes is dramatic blame are examined in relation to the field evidence. A critique is offered of deterministic theories and authoritarian solutions. Professor Mortimore demonstrates a parallel between the observable resilience of semi-arid ecosystems and the adaptive strategies of the human communities that inhabit them and suggests policy directions for strengthening that resilience.

1 review for Adapting to Drought: Farmers, Famines and Desertification in West Africa

  1. 5 out of 5

    Harrowagenda21

    Mortimore is a huge supporter of African farmers - and has been researching their activities for over 40 years, with 28 years residence in northern Nigeria. This book was his first substantial one for a scholarly audience, and first came out in 1989 when he was beginning to reflect on his experiences and to design a model to understand dryland ecosystems and peoples. Not only did he write about how dryland farmers managed during famines in the 1970s and 80s in West Africa - he was there, working Mortimore is a huge supporter of African farmers - and has been researching their activities for over 40 years, with 28 years residence in northern Nigeria. This book was his first substantial one for a scholarly audience, and first came out in 1989 when he was beginning to reflect on his experiences and to design a model to understand dryland ecosystems and peoples. Not only did he write about how dryland farmers managed during famines in the 1970s and 80s in West Africa - he was there, working at Bayero State U. and lived through those dark times. He highlights their extraordinary ingenuity which combines knowledge of the natural world with considerable understanding of 'adaptive strategies' . He literally prefigured much of the interest in 'adaptation to climate change' in this book - a lot of it was written while disconnected from western academic sources. Highly recommended.

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