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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 14. Seasonal migration and climate change in rural Senegal

A form of adaptation or failure to adapt?

Richard Lalou et Valérie Delaunay

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Human migration resulting from climatic and environmental change is not a new phenomenon. Populations have migrated for centuries, often seasonally, following changes in their environment. It is even a principle of life for nomadic and pastoral peoples who continuously seek new resources. However, the question of relations between migration and the environment has only become a subject for scientific debate very recently, for the first time in the 1980s with the major ecological crisis triggered by the great droughts in the Sahel and for the second time with the emergence of the paradigm of climate change in the 1990s.

All authors agree that the droughts of 1968-1974 and 1982-1985 caused increased migration in Niger, Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso both immediately and in the long-term (Coulibaly and Vaugelade, 1981; Faulkingham and Thorbahn, 1975; Findley, 1994; Gervais, 1987; Henry et al., 2004). Use of this adaptation strategy is all the more systematic when drought is ...

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