Science et changements planétaires / Sécheresse


Titre anglais : à venir. Volume 15, issue 3, JUILLET-AOÛT-SEPTEMBRE 2004


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Unité « Développement local et processus d’intégration régionale » Secrétariat du Club du Sahel et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest 94, rue Chardon Lagache 75016 Paris, www.oecd.org/sah/, Réseau « West Africa Border and Integration », www.afriquefrontières.org

As a counterpoint to pessimistic analyses, this article argues that in a context of rapid change, and thus of imbalance and crises, Sahelians have responded in a remarkably dynamic way that indicates bright prospects for the future. The driver of this change is demographic: the total population has nearly tripled over the last 40 years; the urban population has increased eight-fold and the rural population has doubled. These trends, as well as substantial migratory flows, will persist over the next generation. Due to their inevitability, urbanisation and migration should be dealt with head-on—not as a disease that must be cured, but rather as a potential to be optimised. This is not to say that these phenomena do not manifest tensions and crises. It is instead to emphasise the idea that the less prepared we are to face them, the more destructive these tensions will be. The governments of the West African Sahelian countries should thus now pose the following questions, since they will undoubtedly arise in the future: How to best monitor and manage rapid urbanisation? How to best monitor and manage large migrations towards potentially productive but sparsely populated agricultural areas? How to best monitor and manage predominantly young societies?