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Rural societies in the face of climatic and environmental changes in West Africa

Benjamin Sultan
Richard Lalou
Mouftaou Amadou Sanni
et al.

Part II. Impacts of the climate and environmental changes

Chapter 9. Paradoxical pond changes in the non-cultivated Sahel

Diagnosis, causes and consequences

Laurent Kergoat, Manuela Grippa, Pierre Hiernaux, Johanna Ramarohetra, Julie Gardelle, Cécile Dardel, Fabrice Gangneron, Laetitia Gal and Luc Descroix

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An unexpected effect of the multi-decadal drought that affected the Sahel from the 1970s onwards has been an increase in surface water flows that have caused various phenomena described collectively as the ‘Sahelian paradox’. This paradox, that can be summarised succinctly as ‘less rainfall but more water in rivers’, is described by Descroix et al. (see Chapter 7). Most of the observations of the paradox were made in a cultivated Sahelian environment and the phenomenon coincided with substantial changes in land use with the progressive use of land for crops and the development of short fallows instead of long ones. As a result, increased runoff has often been attributed to these changes in land use. Meanwhile, fieldwork has shown that runoff in cultivated fields is intrinsically smaller than in fallows and savannah. This is not coherent with an increase in runoff caused by crop farming. Several authors have therefore considered that surface crusting causes the increase i...


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