Nomads of the Drought: Fulbe and Wodaabe Nomads Between Power and Marginalization in the Sahel of Burkina Faso and the Niger Republic
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The recurrence of drought in the Sahel means there is a necessity for pastoralists to incorporate "drought potentiality" into their social and economic systems. The pastoralist group the WoDaabe and the agro-pastoralist group of the Fulbe Litaako are people who no longer dominate the social systems, but have become, over the last twenty years, "involved in a process of marginalization along with impoverishment and proletarizatin, sedentarization, and agriculturialization" (37). Those who have lost all their animals have a range or suboptimal choices, including begging, making and selling jewelry or medicines, laboring or prostitution. Both languages make a distinction between drought and famine. Droughts are given descriptive names and are held responsible for the increase in tension and conflict between ethnic groups in the Sahel. Whereas the western model of drought includes the climatic elements and the sociopolitical elements of drought. The Sahelian model includes the third element of Allah. Methods of redistributing and circulating animals during times of drought, include the practice of loaning an animal for a season either for its mild or its offspring, and the redistribution after loss which ensures the survival of the family structure. The WoDaabe are, the author suggests, practicing "cultural resistance" (50) in their dress and through their rejection of Islamic culture. Increased drought for them has meant an increased mobility, which has caused them a dilemma on account of their increased dependency on grain. The Fulbe tend in the opposite direction, that is towards sedentarization in the face of increased drought. Systems of redistribution such as borrowing a cow are no longer practiced, and salaried herding is normal. The author rejects the dichotomy between opportunistic and conservative stocking, saying that survival depends on the ability to use both methods. However, the needs of the pastoralist are not factored into any calculation of conservative stocking, only the environmental carrying capacity and for this reason opportunistic farming is favored by the author as this includes the survival on the human population as well as the external environment.