Vulnerability of climate change: The Sahel

The Sahel, broadly defined, is an expense of whole countries and portions of countries south of North Africa, extending from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea, from Senegal to Eritrea but also bordering parts of Nigeria, Algeria, Central African Republic and other countries.  Some 150 million persons live there. The countries have some of the highest birth rates in the world, some exceeding 5 children per woman.

One center says that “the temperature of the Sahel will increase by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by 2050 and possibly 8 degrees Celsius by 2100. Rainfall will decrease and become more erratic. Agricultural production will decrease from anywhere between 13 percent in Burkina Faso to almost 50 percent in Sudan.

The entire sweep of countries are among the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change,  measured in degree of exposure to harm in food, water, health, ecosystem service, human habitat, and infrastructure, and degree to their incapacity to adapt to change. Go here for Notre Dame’ ranking of countries,

A Migration Policy Institute report of November 2022 says that most people severely affected by climate change will be immobile, either choosing to stay or forced to do so. In Burkina Faso, for example, people living in better environmental conditions are more likely to migrate, in part because severe rainfall deficits and bad harvests can make it harder for people in other areas to gather the resources needed to move internationally.  In a 2021 survey of West African migrants conducted in Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, Niger, Sudan, and Tunisia, 86 percent shared that they had left their countries of origin because of economic reasons and only 2 percent cited natural disasters or environmental reasons. However, when asked if environmental issues were a factor in their decision to leave, 41 percent agreed.


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