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Social Network and Vulnerability: A Clear Link in Bedouin Society (Egypt)

Abstract

In the last 60 years, the livelihoods of agro-pastoral and pastoral families in the arid and semi-arid zones in North Africa and the Middle East have undergone major changes caused by significant incentives to adopt a sedentary lifestyle and the increasing intensity of drought events. Such changes have also been influenced by land reclamation projects accompanied by the construction of reservoirs and dikes in the dry lands as well as the extension of irrigation canals in the desert in the Coastal Zone of the Western Desert, Egypt. To understand the changes in the traditional social organization of this desert society, and how these social changes have affected families’ ability to adapt to external shocks such as the recent 15-year drought, we developed a typological approach to investigate the link between family livelihoods and social capital in Bedouin society. We showed a clear link between physical assets (mainly land and animals), the nature and intensity of social links within the traditional society, and level of education. The analysis revealed also some new wealth accumulation processes in link with the socio-political influence of urban zones and the increasing level of education in the zone.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank the French National Agency of Research for funding the study through two projects (project ELVULMED - ANR CEP&S, 2011 and project CLIMED - ARIMNet/ ERA Net) and all the staff involved in the household survey in Marsa Matruh. We also wish to thank our colleagues from APRI (Animal Production Research Institute), DRC (Desert Research centre), CIRAD (Agricultural Research for development), and INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) for the many opportunities to debate on indicators, and all the tribal and official representatives to explain us the complexity of the Bedouin society. We also offer special thanks to all the families in the study sites.

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Correspondence to Véronique Alary.

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Alary, V., Messad, S., Daoud, I. et al. Social Network and Vulnerability: A Clear Link in Bedouin Society (Egypt). Hum Ecol 44, 81–90 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-016-9807-z

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Keywords

  • Social capital
  • Livelihood
  • Typology
  • Bedouin
  • Egypt