Desertification in the Sahel: Local Practice Meets Global Narrative

  • Camilla ToulminEmail author
  • Karen Brock
Part of the Springer Earth System Sciences book series (SPRINGEREARTH)


For nearly a century, crisis narratives about desertification have dominated policy discourse on the Sahelian drylands. This chapter looks at some of the ways in which these have shaped policy interventions in the drylands over the decades, and how contemporary development thinking offers better options for resilient dryland livelihoods. We argue that solutions to the environmental and economic problems faced by dryland systems—especially in the context of climate change—need to be more firmly rooted in a nuanced understanding of ecological change and the links between climate, vegetation and people. They must also involve a shift in power to local people, recognizing the value of marrying modern science with indigenous knowledge systems. Dryland peoples are more likely to prosper when governments reverse heavy-handed attempts to manage these areas. Greater promise lies with decentralizing power and decision-making to local institutions, and recognizing local tenure rights and systems for securing access to land.


Drylands Policy Discourse Livelihoods Decentralization and resilience 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Institute of Environment and DevelopmentLondonUK
  2. 2.Green InkHawson FarmBuckfastleighUK

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