It will rain if god wills it: local perceptions of climate change in the Futa Tooro of northern Senegal
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Populations in the Sahel are among the most vulnerable to climate change and variability (CCV). The increased temperatures and rainfall variability predicted by General Circulation Models (GCM) threaten Sahel livelihoods by exacerbating aridity and existing environmental, political, and economic challenges. In addition to the broader issues of poverty and environmental degradation, lack of awareness of the problem contributes to regional vulnerability. This project explores local awareness of environmental change to evaluate the vulnerability of the Futa Tooro, a Sahel region in Northern Senegal, to climate change. Using semi-structured open-ended interviews of four Futa villages, local understanding of CCV and perceptions of ongoing environmental changes was investigated to gauge potential for local adaptation strategies that effectively accommodate the experienced change. Details concerning the sources for environmental knowledge are also gathered to identify factors influencing local perception of and response to environmental change. Participant responses show diverse explanations of causes for currently perceived environment changes, although explanations are consistently attributed to ideas of holism and the fatalism of Allah's will. Most interviews did not reference CCV as a cause for locally experienced environment changes. Local efforts in CCV adaptation strategies and environmental education were equally unheard of, indicating high vulnerability among Futa Tooro communities to predicted CCV changes for the Sahel.
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