Beyond the desertification narrative: a framework for agricultural drought in semi-arid East Africa

M.F.W. Slegers, L. Stroosnijder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In the 20th century, much research was done on desertification. Desertification developed into a complex and vague construct that means land degradation under specific conditions. Projects focusing on land degradation in semiarid East Africa have met with limited success because farmers prioritize drought as the major productivity-reducing problem. Yet studies on long-term rainfall trends have not confirmed that droughts are more frequent. In this article, we combine drought and land degradation effects into an Agricultural Drought Framework, which departs from the farmers' prioritization of drought and accommodates scientists' concern for land degradation. It includes meteorological drought, soil water drought, and soil nutrient drought. The framework increases insight into how different land degradation processes influence the vulnerability of land and farmers to drought. A focus on increased rainwater use efficiency will address both problems of land degradation and drought, thereby improving productivity and food security in semiarid East Africa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-380
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • environmental crisis
  • soil degradation
  • land degradation
  • climate-change
  • stable states
  • burkina-faso
  • dry spell
  • management
  • rainfall
  • systems

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