Impact of climate change on water availability, agriculture and food security in semi-arid regions, with special focus on West Africa
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TitleImpact of climate change on water availability, agriculture and food security in semi-arid regions, with special focus on West Africa
Translated TitleDe impact van klimaatverandering op de aanwezigheid van water, landbouw en de garantie op voedsel in semi-aride regio's, met speciale aandacht voor West Afrika
PubliekssamenvattingAbstract niet beschikbaar
The research effort started with a geographical inventory of all tropical and sub-tropical drylands to map the diversity in aridity, land degradation, population densities and urbanisation of the world's drylands and to put the drylands of West Africa in perspective. It also guided a choice of in-depth study regions within West Africa. The scenario analysis shows a wide variety of outcomes, but with rather strong suggestions that most of dryland West Africa is expected to become a lot dryer. The consequences of these projections are an increase in high-risk environments for agriculture, including a southward shift of the arid and semi-arid zones. Changes in rainfall distribution could mean an additional stress on agricultural production in these areas. Simulation studies clearly reveal a shift of the onset of the growing season and lower yield levels. To understand farmers' behaviour in West African drylands in preparing ('insuring') for dryer conditions and for agro-climatological droughts, in coping with droughts and adverse production conditions, and in adapting to changed conditions afterwards, we looked at their performance before, during and after drought years in the past identifying several adaptation strategies and policy recommendations. The conclusions don't look very grim, contrary to the much-painted 'picture of doom' for Africa. West Africa's shock experience in the 1970s and 1980s did have the result that it became much better prepared for possible new drought shocks, and that its agricultural production performance in the 1990s (when rainfall became considerably better) improved. The future for the Sahel is not necessarily gloomy. However, system breakdown can occur during droughts. One may fear that in those situations religion will be used as a major catalyst for political support to exclusionist claims (Islam versus Christianity and religious sub-groups versus sub-groups) and may result in massive violence and rapid deterioration of all local livelihood options, resulting in a large death toll and mass migration southward and overseas.