A catastrophic drought that lasted from the late s to the early s brought international attention to the area and prompted the formation of a number of agencies designed to combat both hunger and desertification. Geography Sahel forest in Mali.
See Article History Alternative Title: It forms a transitional zone between the arid Sahara desert to the north and the belt of humid savannas to the The sahel.
SahelSahel in the rain season, between Bamako and Kayes, Mali. The thorny scrub once formed a woodland, but the country is now more open and relatively traversable by motor vehicle.
The terrain is chiefly of the savanna type, with little continuous cover and a dangerous tendency to merge into desert because of overstocking and overfarming. At least eight months of the year are dry, and rain, confined to a short season, averages 4—8 inches — mmmostly in June, July, and August.
Modest crops of millet and peanuts groundnuts can be raised in many areas.
In the second half of the 20th century, the Sahel was increasingly afflicted by soil erosion and desertification resulting from growing human populations that made more demands upon the land than previously.
Town dwellers and farmers stripped the tree and scrub cover to obtain firewood and grow crops, after which excessive numbers of livestock devoured the remaining grass cover.
Rainfall runoff and the wind then carried off the fertile topsoils, leaving arid and barren wastelands.
The fragile nature of agriculture and pastoralism in the Sahel was strikingly demonstrated in the early s, when a long period of droughtbeginning inled to the virtual extinction of the crops there and the loss of 50 to 70 percent of the cattle. In there was practically no rain at all, and by sections of the Sahara had advanced southward up to 60 miles km.
The loss of human life by starvation and disease was estimated in atSevere drought and famine again afflicted the Sahel in —85, and desertification progressed despite some government reforestation programs.
The Sahel continued to expand southward into neighbouring savannas, with the Sahara following in its wake. In northern Africa the term Sahel is applied to the coastal band of hills in Algeria and to the steppelike eastern coastal plain of Tunisia.
Learn More in these related Britannica articles:To Sahel and back. War-weary Western voters have little appetite for fresh entanglements in distant conflicts. And so far, the threat the Sahel poses to Western interests is limited.
An international alliance must create a plan for the fragile African states of the Sahel to prevent catastrophe in a region already buckling under the strain Published: 18 Sep Sahl Hasheesh will host the third annual Fishing Tournament which will bring the country's top anglers together for the largest and most exciting competition on the Red Sea.
The Sahel is one of Africa's largest and most important landscapes.
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