Mindanao Times

West Africa’s nomads fight climate change to survive


THEY are one of the last great nomadic peoples of the planet, a community of some 35 million people scattered across 15 countries in West Africa, from the dusty Sahel down to the lush rainforest­s.

The Fulani are pastoral herders who migrate with their cattle, following the pendulum swing of the seasons.

But their age-old way of life is under threat.

Booming population­s have intensifie­d conflicts for land, religious extremism has shattered social bonds and climate change is driving them on an ever more desperate search for pasture.

While they are well used to the extreme conditions of this often inhospitab­le region, today they face threats from longer and more severe droughts

to greater rain and flooding.

Niger, a country in which more than 80 percent of population lives off agricultur­e, is at the forefront of the climate emergency.

The Fulanis there have seen their herds decimated by droughts and hunger in recent decades -- and this decline is gaining speed.

Every year an area of over 1,000 square kilometers (380 square miles) is lost to the spreading desert and soil erosion.

The sixth poorest nation in the world also has the highest birth rates with women on average bearing seven children.

This fuels a vicious spiral that has seen demographi­c pressures and the struggle for resources intensify competitio­n with farmers for land.

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