Two Malian case studies are compared, both representing dryland areas with relatively low population densities and relatively low levels of land degradation. Douentza is in the semi-arid-to arid zone, where crop cultivation is very risky and pastoralism a more ‘natural’ way of making use of the environment. However, recently crop cultivation has been expanding rapidly and has partially recovered from the droughts of the 1970s and 1980s. Crop cultivation now provides a livelihood for impoverished former pastoralists (like FulBe, and Tamachek), but also for groups who have always been cultivators (like the Dogon). Many people originating from this area have extended their geographical network and can be found in areas much further to the South. Many retain their relations with their areas of origin, though. Koutiala is an area in the sub-humid zone and in a region which benefited from the Malian cotton boom economy of the 1980s and 1990s. Not only did the local Minyanka prosper, the expanding economy also provided a livelihood for many immigrants who had escaped the drought conditions of the northern area.
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