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Dirty droughts causing loss and damage in Northern Burkina Faso

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Extreme droughts in the northern part of Burkina Faso are locally referred to as
, meaning ‘dirty weather’, because they severely disrupt people’s livelihoods in the area. This article investigates the loss and damage from the
droughts that occurred in 2004 and 2010 in the Sahel Region. The study conducted field survey among households in ten villages. We found that people’s reliance on transhumance has been decreasing over the last decades due to the lack of good pastures, competition over natural resources and corollary conflicts. Whereas transhumance was an effective way to deal with droughts and seasonality, decreased mobility and increased interdependence between cattle and crop production has made people more vulnerable in the event of extreme droughts. Evidences from the survey results show that the vast majority of the respondents experienced negative effects of recent
droughts on crops (96%) and livestock (87%). It is also found that such extreme droughts tend to have a cascading impact; they first cause a lack of water affecting seedling and crop yields, which then affects the availability of food for people and feed for livestock. This, in turn, further limits their capacity to cope with future droughts.

Keywords: loss and damage, climate change, dirty drought, cascading impacts, crop and livestock, erosive coping, Burkina Faso, Sahel

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