Reportage: The Sahel: Between The Raindrops
In the early 1960s when the countries of the Western Sahel declared independence from France, the majority of inhabitants were nomadic pastoralists. Today, less than 10% of the population continues to practice a nomadic way of life. In a few short decades, the society became primarily sedentary, practicing agriculture and breeding livestock. This rapid transformation in conjunction with the effects of climate change and cheap food imports has made agriculture unsustainable for much of the population and food insecurity endemic in the Sahel. As a result, there has been an exodus of men from rural communities to urban areas and abroad in search of work. Women, children and the elderly have been left behind in rural villages to work the land and produce food for the nation. With increasingly erratic rainy seasons and prolonged periods of drought, water management systems and agricultural development programs are essential to extending the planting season and improving food security throughout the Sahel.