Accepted Paper:

Land degradation and ecological knowledge based land rehabilitation of Hausa farmers in the Sahel region, West Africa  


Shuichi Oyama (Kyoto Univ.)

Paper short abstract:

Urban population increase and road transport system make possible production for remote markets and places fragile resources under ever greater strain. In Sahel of West Africa, Hausa farmers rehabilitate their crop fields for their productivity by their ecological knowledge and daily practices.

Paper long abstract:

The population increase has had dramatic effects to famines, food shortages, and conflicts over land and natural resource in Sahel region of West Africa. The land degradation is causing the decline of crop and livestock production. The subsistence is threatened by food shortage and loss of subsistence resources, especially in rural areas.

The Hausa people living in the arid environment of the southern Niger cultivate pearl millet and cowpea. Because of population increase, they need to cultivate the crops without fallow period and face the land degradation problem in the cultivated fields. Based on the field observation and interviews from villagers, land degradation can proceed easily if they do not take care of land management.

To avoid land degradation and food shortage problem, they carry trash as manure from their homesteads into the degraded land. The trash is called "taki" in the Hausa language. The taki mainly contains organic matter, such as plant residue and livestock excreta, and small amounts of low degradability materials such as worn-out clothing and vinyl sandals, used plastic bags, and the exhausted metal dishes and pots.

Finally, I will introduce our trials for land rehabilitation based on ecological knowledge of people and conflict prevention in the society. We built two 50m x 50m fenced plots and carried urban trash into the degraded land, formerly common pastureland for all the people including Hausa cultivators, Fulbe and Tuareg pastoral people. This practice is useful for preventing the livestock-induced crop damages and conflicts between the farmers and herders.

Panel P039
Anthropological perspectives on environmental change and sustainable futures (Commission on Anthropology and the Environment)