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

By Michael Mortimore

This publication embodies the result of 13 years of analysis 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 in line with recurrent drought within the Seventies and Nineteen Eighties. The query of desertification is explored in a space the place the seen proof of relocating sand dunes is dramatic blame are tested with regards to the sector proof. A critique is on the market of deterministic theories and authoritarian strategies. Professor Mortimore demonstrates a parallel among the observable resilience of semi-arid ecosystems and the adaptive suggestions 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

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Union of South Africa, 1923). 12 Introduction In this book I shall be concerned primarily with agricultural and ecological drought, as they affect rural systems of primary production, and as they are perceived by the producers. 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.

New technology was beginning to affect land use in significant ways. Oxdrawn ploughs, first introduced as part of a programme of mixed farming in the 1920s (King, 1939), had made a slow start, but by 1965 the number in use was about 45,000 (FAO, 1966: 202; Laurent, 1968) and growing rapidly. They were concentrated in commercially advanced areas such as Gombe (Tiffen, 1975), and associated with larger holdings and wealthier, innovative farmers. Inorganic fertilisers were being applied increasingly to crops destined for market.

If a process, it may be conceived either as a negative change, from a productive to a less productive state, or as a transfer of the unproductive characteristics of one area (such as a 15 16 Introduction desert) to another, as implied in the word 'encroachment'. Most contemporary definitions confine desertification to arid and semi-arid zones on the fringes of deserts. But the contributory processes are not so confined, having also been observed in humid and subhumid areas. Glantz has suggested a return to Aubreville's catholic usage, but the difficulties of field research argue rather for a narrowing of the concept.

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