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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 III. Social changes in rural populations

Chapter 11. Rural populations faced with environmental hazards

African experiences

Bénédicte Gastineau, Moustapha Gibigaye, Frédéric Kosmowski, Agnès Adjamagbo et Théodore Houngbégnon

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Extrait du texte

Although the exact and experimental sciences (mathematics, climatology, oceanography, geomorphology) have a fundamental role to play in forecasting and in analysing the past and future climate, the same applies to the social sciences whose role is to shed light on the social and human dimensions of changes. One of the notions often used in social sciences with reference to this question is adaptation1—analysing how populations adapt to environmental changes and events (increasingly strong inter-annual variations in rainfall, soil fertility loss, scarcity of land, forest and water resources, etc.). Focus in the social sciences has been on the environment in the broad sense rather than what is strictly the climate in order to show how rural societies organise themselves and adapt to survive in contexts of uncertainty or risk.

In the first part of this chapter we describe the research work conducted on this question. We shall return to three results in social sciences: first the matchin...


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