Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationFordham U.
Grant numberGr. 10572
Approve DateSeptember 29, 2023
Project TitleDougnon, Isaie (Fordham U.) "Migration for Water and Land: Drought Conditions and Farmers’ Adaptation Strategies in the West African Sahel"
In the wake of major droughts in the West African Sahel, affected farming communities have engaged in rural-rural migration as an adaptation strategy. This project ethnographically explores how this has happened and how it has transformed communities, households, and livelihoods. While much research on the region focuses on the survival of pastoralist herder communities, this project proposes an understanding of the Sahel as a region shared by both herders and farmers. It focuses on four key intersecting conditions that impact the process of adaptation: a) the place of rural settlement and its social, political, and environmental characteristics, b) the availability of natural resources, c) land tenure and property rights, and d) migrants’ technical agricultural knowledge. The project will look how the dynamics of these four aspects are influenced by state policy, NGOs, and the private sector, as well as by religious and cultural institutions. Based on six months of ethnographic field work in three village communities in southern Mali inhabited by Dogon people who collectively departed from their drought-stricken homes in the 1970s and 1980s, this project interrogates how migration functions as an adaptive response to drought and examines the construction of migratory adaptation as a socio-technical process.