"It’s the economy, stupid": Why a 1980s American political slogan is a perfect illustration of the drivers for restoration in the Sahel
World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Belgium
The vast drylands of Africa’s Sahel region stretch from Mauritania and Senegal in the west to Eritrea and Djibouti in the East and are home to hundreds of millions of people, mostly farmers and pastoralists. Land use systems appear to have been adequate and sustainable for many centuries but were profoundly damaged by colonialism and the subsequent rise of the regulatory state, which emasculated evolved natural resource governance systems. Rapid population growth, serious droughts in the 1970s and 1980s, and maladapted regulatory systems and development priorities have led to a rapid degradation of land and ecosystem health indicators, the progressive worsening of rural livelihoods and a concomitant rise in outmigration and banditry. We propose a number of conceptual principles to apply in the effort to restore these landscapes to high ecosystemic productivity at scale, taking into account the range of modelled changes to local climates. Informed by decades of research and partnerships with development efforts across the region, these principles ask practitioners, regulators, donors and researchers to consider contexts, incentives and drivers, land, tree and livestock management strategies, scale, and nested regulatory and economic governance systems.
Keywords: Agro-forestry, Sahel
Contact Address: Patrick Worms, World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Brussels, Belgium, e-mail: p.wormscgiar.org