Accepted paper:

Sahelian drought: local versus national / international notions and responses (Central Niger)


Clare Oxby (University of Bern, Switzerland)

Paper short abstract:

Chronic drought-linked crisis in the Sahel is explored through confronting the differing and often contradictory notions held, and consequent actions taken, by the various parties involved in particular local pastoralists and agro-pastoralists versus national and international institutions.

Paper long abstract:

A major international humanitarian organisation announced in March 2012 that

urgent action was needed to stop drought in West Africa's Sahel region turning into a humanitarian disaster affecting 13 million people. The paper tries to understand how and why drought-triggered crisis has become more and more frequent and severe in the Sahel in spite of decades of development aid efforts to combat it, by focusing on one aspect: the variety of notions used by the different actors involved to describe the crisis as they perceive it, and the consequent variety of strategies used in addressing the problem and seeking to improve the situation in the future. The principal actors are taken to be: 1. pastoralist and agro-pastoralist producers in Central Niger 2. their community leaders and local office-holders 3. the Niger government as reflected in its policies affecting the region, and 4. external humanitarian and aid organisations supporting local drought-linked initiatives. The paper argues that the lack of progress in preventing what is interpreted in the international media as 'drought-linked humanitarian disaster' can be best understood through an appreciation of the widely differing and sometimes contradictory notions, held by the various parties involved, concerning what the problem is and what to do to improve the situation.

panel MMM12
Lost in mutation: pastoral development rhetoric of the third millennium (IUAES Commission on Nomadic Peoples)