Extreme droughts in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso are severely disrupting the lives of local people who depend on the land for livestock keeping and crop cultivation. In the past, the region was primarily composed of pastoralists who moved with their livestock in search of pasture. However, intense droughts, competition over natural resources and urbanization, have reduced pastoral land and forced pastoralists to decrease herd sizes. Many took up crop cultivation to diversify the risk they experienced. Instead, as livestock rely increasingly on crops for feed in lieu of grazing, households find themselves in a precarious position where drought-induced crop failure results in cascading impacts that lead to food insecurity and large scale livestock losses.
Households employ many coping strategies to deal with these impacts, including migrating for work, and selling property and livestock. While offering short term relief, these strategies ultimately erode coping capacity for future droughts. Households become more vulnerable as livestock are sold and not replenished and migration of youth and heads of household weaken crucial social networks.