Science et changements planétaires / Sécheresse


Climate, water, and health in the West African Sahel Volume 15, issue 3, JUILLET-AOÛT-SEPTEMBRE 2004


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Climat et Santé, Faculté de médecine, BP 87900, 21079 Dijon cedex, Université Louis Pasteur, Faculté de géographie, 3, rue de l’Argonne, 67083 Strasbourg cedex, Centre de suivi écologique (CSE), BP 15 532, Dakar-Fann, Sénégal, Unité de recherche (UR) 024 Épidémiologie et prévention, Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD), BP 64501, 34394 Montpellier cedex 5, Département Santé Environnement, Institut de veille sanitaire (InVS), 12, rue du Val d’Osne, 94415 Saint-Maurice cedex

From the mouth of the Senegal River to the shores of Lake Chad through to the Sudanese Djezireh, the Sahel stands as an ecological transition (wooded steppe, between the Saharan desert and the Sudanian savannah) and a crossroads of civilisations (where nomadic shepherds and Black settled farmers are converging, the latter gradually taking over from the former towards the South). In this “area between two worlds” people’s health is strongly dependent on the natural environment, possibly altered by human action. Simultaneously or in turn, it has something of the nature of both surrounding environments. But the great drought of the 1970s and 1980s deeply altered the health situation, both by its direct effects (resulting in an increased dry area pathology) and by the installations it brought about (and those tended to induce the emergence or re-emergence of diseases which were until then characteristic of more humid areas).