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Michigan State University (1991)

Changes in drought-coping strategies in the Segu region of Mali

Cole, Roy

Titre : Changes in drought-coping strategies in the Segu region of Mali

Auteur : Cole, Roy

Université de soutenance : Michigan State University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 1991

The choice of drought-coping strategies during the droughts of 1973 and 1984 in a Sudano-Sahelian area in Mali, West Africa, was examined in relation to location, ethnic group, and economic status. The results indicate that response to drought is a complex phenomenon that is influenced by all three variables. The adoption of drought-coping strategies involves a diverse ’toolkit’ of strategies that changes over time as circumstances warrant. Drought-responses were diverse and creative in both 1973 and 1984. While 1973 may be described in general as a period of mutual aid, divestment of a variety of assets including livestock, and wage labor, 1984 was characterized by agricultural innovation to address food security issues and the need for cash, the divestment of livestock, and wage labor. The use of drought-coping strategies that were stigmatized by the general population (begging, pledging assets or a family member, and eating certain wild foods), although never used by a majority of respondents, declined from 1973 to 1984. Most non-agricultural strategies declined in general importance, with the exception of labor migration of family members other than the head of household. Assets from seasonal migration were used to purchase livestock and agricultural equipment for the family. In many marginal areas of Africa where the range of existing and potential drought-coping strategies is small, drought has been the cause of great human suffering. However, the results of the present study suggest that in some cases drought can act as a stimulus to technological change which ultimately mitigates the impact of drought. The findings also suggest that in the study area an agricultural transformation influenced by drought is taking place. The technological changes associated with this transformation are significant because they have changed the terms of the human-environment relation from 1973 to 1984. This change implies a reduction in the vulnerability of people to drought.

Mots clés : Cultural anthropology, Geography, Social sciences, African history


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