The West African Sahel: human agency and environmental change

The approach to environmental rehabilitation in the Sahel discussed assumes that the environmental processes of the region are real and impose identifiable constraints upon human activity. It similarly assumes that the adaptations of populations to Sahelian environmental systems are rational and significant. It further assumes that environmental systems and social systems are interactive and modify each other through time. These assumptions form the analytical framework of this essay. Because the biological productivity of the Sahel is declining, historical analysis was employed to assess the biological potential of Sahelian ecosystems. Measures were identified which would contribute to the rehabilitation of Sahelian ecosystems. Particular emphasis has been placed upon relationships between the proposed measures and the dynamics of environmental systems in order to amplify project impact, the socioeconomic context of the proposed interventions, and ease of project implementation. Part I describes the nature of Sahelian environmental systems. Particular attention is devoted to their more distinctive features and to the interactions and dependencies of their constituent components. Part II discusses the modifications and declining biological productivity of Sahelian ecosystems. Part III proposes specific measures which might be taken by local populations, some in collaboration with Sahelian governments and international assistance organizations active in the region, to increase the stability and productivity of the region.

Title: The West African Sahel: human agency and environmental change
Author: Gritzner, Jeffrey A.
Year: 1988
ISSN: 0069-3340
Issue: 226
Pages: 170
Language: English
Series: Research paper
City of publisher: Chicago, IL
Publisher: The University of Chicago, Committee on Geographical Studies
ISBN: 0890651302
Geographic term: Sahel
Abstract: The approach to environmental rehabilitation in the Sahel discussed assumes that the environmental processes of the region are real and impose identifiable constraints upon human activity. It similarly assumes that the adaptations of populations to Sahelian environmental systems are rational and significant. It further assumes that environmental systems and social systems are interactive and modify each other through time. These assumptions form the analytical framework of this essay. Because the biological productivity of the Sahel is declining, historical analysis was employed to assess the biological potential of Sahelian ecosystems. Measures were identified which would contribute to the rehabilitation of Sahelian ecosystems. Particular emphasis has been placed upon relationships between the proposed measures and the dynamics of environmental systems in order to amplify project impact, the socioeconomic context of the proposed interventions, and ease of project implementation. Part I describes the nature of Sahelian environmental systems. Particular attention is devoted to their more distinctive features and to the interactions and dependencies of their constituent components. Part II discusses the modifications and declining biological productivity of Sahelian ecosystems. Part III proposes specific measures which might be taken by local populations, some in collaboration with Sahelian governments and international assistance organizations active in the region, to increase the stability and productivity of the region.