1st Edition

Life Before the Drought

Edited By Earl Scott Copyright 1984

    Little attention had been paid to the realities of life in the Savanna-Sahel of West Africa before the drought of 1968-74, but this book, originally published in 1984 provides a set of authoritative accounts of the way in which the inhabitants cope with what outsiders perceive as a harsh environment. The peoples of the Savanna-Sahel are shown to be developers of strategies and technologies to manage their resources. Their understanding of the environment enables them to contribute substantially to any plans for economic and ecological recovery in the region. Their cooperative modes of life lead to greater social complexity and capacity for survival. Geographers, anthropologists and social historians should find the interdisciplinary human ecological approach of the book appealing. Development economists and rural planners will find the chapters on land-use patterns, and resource use particularly valuable.

    1. Introduction: Life and Poverty in the Savanna-Sahel Zones Earl P. Scott 2. Power, Prosperity and Social Inequality in Songhay (1464-1591) Lansiné Kaba 3. Life Before the Drought: A Human Ecological Perspective Earl P. Scott 4. Nomads, Farmers and Merchants: Old Strategies In a Changing Sudan Andrew W. Shepherd 5. Differential Development in Machakos District, Kenya Marilyn Silberfein 6. The Demise of the Moral Economy: Food and Famine in a Sudano-Sahelian Region in Historical Perspective Michael J. Watts 7. Changing Land-Use Patterns in the Fadamas of Northern Nigeria Beryl Turner 8. The Fulani in a Development Context: The Relevance of Cultural Traditions for Coping with Change and Crisis Paul Riesman


    Earl Scott

    Original review of Life Before the Drought:

    ‘This is an interesting…collection of essays mostly concerning the savannah and sahel ecozones that examine historical changes in food production and social relationships.’ C. Frantz, African Studies Review, 27 (4), 1984.

    ‘Most of the individual chapters are valuable, thoughtful…’ Anthony O’Connor, African Affairs, Vol 83, Issue 339, 1986