Global Change and Livelihood Adaptations among the Tuareg of Niger
AdvisorMarsh, Stuart E.
Hutchinson, Charles F.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 04-Dec-2014
AbstractRural households in the West African Sahel have developed livelihood systems that allow them to survive in one of the most challenging social-ecological systems on Earth. These households have experienced environmental shocks including droughts, floods, and extreme heat for hundreds of years, and have well-established coping and adaptation mechanisms that allow them to recover from all but the most severe shocks. Climate change, particularly increased climatic variability, may stress Sahelian livelihood systems to the point that households must deploy a new set of coping and adaptation strategies in order to survive. This research, conducted as three interrelated mixed-method studies, explores the coping and adaptation strategies used by Tuareg transhumant pastoralists in Niger starting with the deep drought of 1968-1974.The first study involves rural households in the Tahoua Region of central Niger. These households have adapted to climate change and other livelihood stressors primarily by diversifying their assets, utilizing new technologies, and reducing the length of their annual transhumance. While there are donor-funded programs designed to assist rural households with adaptation to climate change, the households in this study have not been the beneficiaries of such programs. The second study attempts to disentangle climate shocks from other factors driving rural-urban migration while also exploring which households migrate to urban areas, and why. Climate change is perceived as the main factor driving rural-urban migration, as well as other livelihood changes. Household-level preferences, management skills, and luck played a greater role that asset endowments in determining which households would migrate to urban areas. The third study focused on livelihood strategies of households that had migrated to, and settled in, urban areas. These households worked hard to maintain social capital with their rural kin while also building social capital in their new urban environment. Social capital with expatriates and urban elites was an important element of urban households' asset endowment. Urbanized households possess significantly fewer livestock than their rural counterparts, and struggle to manage the cash earned from relatively low-paying wage labor. These three studies demonstrate that pastoralists perceive climate change as a significant driver of changes in livelihood strategies. Pastoralists' perceptions of climate change broadly match climate data. Furthermore, pastoralists, with little to no assistance from the state or development organizations, are successfully adapting to climate change in ways that are likely to increase their resilience to future climate shocks.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Arid Lands Resource Sciences