Survival in the Sahel: Climatic extremes, from drought to flood, threaten survival

December 28, 2010 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Africa, Daily Email Recap

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In some ways Alhaji Bunu Fodio is lucky: at least his house is still standing. Most of Kagara, his dusty village in Nigeria’s far north, was smashed to smithereens during this year’s rainy season when an unexpected deluge burst a nearby dam. Floods destroyed homes and farms in at least a dozen nearby villages. Mr Fodio lost his entire harvest of maize and sorghum.

Kagara lies on the edge of the Sahel, an arid belt of land on the Sahara desert’s southern fringe that spans Africa from Senegal in the west to parts of Ethiopia in the east, and is constantly battling the elements. During the Sahel’s nine-month dry season, roughly from October to June, the subsistence farmers who make up most of its inhabitants eagerly await the rain.

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