Climate change and food security in the drylands of West Africa

A. Verhagen, A.J. Dietz, R. Ruben, Han van Dijk, A. de Jong, F. Zaal, M. de Bruijn, H. van Keulen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Increasing population has prompted farmers to claim land for agricultureagriculture and use this land more intensively. This strategy was successful in feeding the world’s population but came with a cost. These environmental costs became clear over the last few decades: degradation of once fertile land, pollution of water resources, expansion of agriculture into marginal areas, conversion of natural systems to agricultural systems resulting in loss of biodiversity. Currently, approximately 38% of the total land area (4.96 billion ha) is used for agriculture and about 10% (1.37 billion ha) is arable land (FAO, 1999). Clearing new land for agricultureagriculture is increasingly being done on areas with no or little potential for sustainable agricultural production. Further increase in acreage is becoming less an option. Although technological advances will play an important role in feeding the world population, local food security will increasingly depend on the adaptive capacity of farmers. Adaptive capacity of human systems in Africa is low due to lack of economic resources and technology, and vulnerability high as a result of heavy reliance on rain-fed agricultureagriculture, frequent droughts and floods, and poverty (IPCC WG II, 2001).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal environmental change and land use
EditorsA.J. Dolman, A. Verhagen, C.A. Rovers
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages167
ISBN (Electronic)9789401703352
ISBN (Print)9781402013461, 9789048163083
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • land use
  • climatic change
  • agricultural production
  • yields
  • precipitation
  • africa south of sahara
  • west africa

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