, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 25-30

The role of women peasants in the process of desertification in Western Sudan

Abstract

Women peasants in the Sudan are both agents of and sufferers from the process of desertification which is taking place in the arid and semi-arid zone. The researchwork done by the author on the problem of desertification in the west of the Republic of the Sudan convinced him that women there suffer much more than men do from the decrease of land productivity. Paradoxically enough, women themselves have actively taken part in desertifying their environment in their desperate attempt to keep their families living. This paper endeavours to highlight the role of peasant women in areas prone to or already stricken by desertification. Especially in the transitional phases following drought disasters and loss of live-stock the whole brunt of catering for the family falls on the shoulders of peasant women. Three main issues are being tackled: Millet production as essentially women's task, rainfall variability and its impact on women cultivators, the settlement of nomads and semi-nomads as a new burden laid on women. Finally, some suggestions are made to improve the conditions of women's work to provide nutrition for their families without doing much destruction to the fragile environment and its limited resources.