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Resilience of Small Farmers Facing Global Change: The Case of the Ganzourgou Province, Plateau Central, Burkina Faso

Sanfo S., Gérard F., Fallot A., Antona M.. 2014. In : Resilience and development: mobilising for transformation. Villeurbanne : Centre pour la Communication Scientifique Directe, p. 772-772. Resilience Alliance 2014, 2014-05-04/2014-05-08, Montpellier (France).

Following recurrent food crises and the fear of growing instability on world markets, household resilience comes at the forefront of donors' concerns. Poor Sahelian farming household situation is particularly preoccupying. Population growth without off-farm job opportunities leads to increasing pressure on natural resources and often to their degradation. Because of their poverty and precarious food security, farming households are highly affected by increased frequencies of yields or prices fluctuations. Moreover the difficult agro-climatic conditions - erratic and inadequate rainfall- are known to account for more than 50 per cent of crop failures where there is over-dependence on rainfed crops. In these cases, the weakness of financial capital and equipment increases their risk exposure to extreme events related to climate change. The resilience and the complexity of adaptation strategies of Sahelian farmers are widely recognized but the mechanisms at work are rarely approached in details. Simultaneously, households are often stuck in the poverty trap, with low land and labor productivity leading to chronic poverty and high exposure to the risk of food insecurity. This communication proposal aims to help understand the mechanisms of the resilience and adaptation strategies of Sahelian farming systems. Which strategies do they use to adapt to progressive environmental changes as well as to extreme events? Which households' trajectories are associated to these strategies? Are their farming systems transforming or just adapting themself to be able to return to the previous situation as soon as possible? A recursive dynamic mathematical programming model serves the analysis, by reproducing the decisions of farmers facing opportunities and constraints. The model developed allows assessing the immediate and delayed impacts of farmers' decisions on flow economic variables, as incomes, as well as on stocks of production factors, including natural resources. The socio-ecological system of the Ganzourgou province has been chosen as emblematic of the situation of millions of poor Sahelian households, facing difficult agro-climatic conditions with very high climatic risk and widespread poverty. Although almost all agricultural households of the Ganzourgou region fall into the "poor " category as defined by the World Bank, they are still characterized by a strong diversity in terms of access to natural resources and income levels, possibly leading to different vulnerabilities and strategies. Three household categories have been defined in the model: "very poor," "poor " and "less poor. Based on the identified mechanisms at work to deal with the current population growth two alternative scenarios are simulated. These scenarios represent negative impacts on yields of climate change and of soil degradation. In the first scenario, crops yields are affected by a progressive degradation while the second represent a strong isolated shock occurring the third year of simulation. The proposed approach allows discussing alternative adaptation paths and the impact of small cumulative changes for given variables, for instance: available cash to start the next season, dramatic changes on livelihoods (distress sales), and capacity to deal with further shocks in the futures. (Texte integral)...

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