Climatic Change

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 601–616 | Cite as

Towards an Interpretation of Historical Droughts in Northern Nigeria

  • Aondover Tarhule
  • Ming-Ko Woo


Both historical information on sub-Saharan droughts/famines and measured rainfall data from northern Nigeria were analysed. Their parallel existence since 1905 allows famine chronologies to be quantified from the rainfall series. It is found that the most disruptive historical famines occurred when the cumulative deficit of rainfall fell below 1.3 times the standard deviation of long-term mean annual rainfall for a particular place. Thus defined, rainfall droughts matched approximately 90% of the famine events chronicled for northern Nigeria. An attempt is made to utilise information obtained from this matching of events to interpret droughts which occurred before scientific measurements. Difficulties inherent in such interpretation are discussed.


Standard Deviation Annual Rainfall Nigeria Rainfall Data Historical Information 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aondover Tarhule
    • 1
  • Ming-Ko Woo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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