Desertification in the Sahel

Case Study- Drought and Water Suplly in LEDC's

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Facts About Water Supply in LEDC's

Over the past 300 years the world's population has increased 7 times.

This means that the demand for water has increased my 35 times.

25,000 people die each DAY due to contaminated water.

80 Countries and 1.5 billion people are suffering from 'Severe Water Stress'.

By 2025 two thirds of the world's population will be short of clean, reliable water.

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Reasons for Shortages

Why are people in LEDC's short of clean water?

In rural areas streams and rivers have many uses such as drinking, cleaning, washing and the disposal of sewage therefore the water is dirty.

In urban areas such as Shanty Towns, the absense of sewage systems leads to the waster polluting the water.

There is lack of Governement Legislation and Implementation

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The Sahel and Desertification

Desertification- this is the transformation of habitable, arable land into desert land due to climate change and/or human influence.

The Sahel is a narrow belt of semi-arid land that lies immediatley South of the Sahra Desert and it extends across much of Africa.

CONVECTION TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION (CCD) aims to reduce the effects of drought and desertification.

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Facts about the Sahel

  • Rainfall is confined to 1 or 2 months.
  • The amount of rain and the length of the 'rainy season' is unreliable.
  • Sometimes water is immediatley lost because of surface run off.
  • Rains may fail altogether.
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Causes of Desertification

Climate Change- The water level fell from above avergae to below average

For over 20 years rainfall remained well below average.

Seasonal Rivers and Water Holes dried out.

Overgrazing- The basic economy of many Sahel communities is animal grazing.

In the wetter years livestock in some areas increased by 40%

When the drought began this meant that there were too many animals for

the amount of water available

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Causes Continued

Population Growth- The population of most Sahel countires has risen rapidly since


This is mainly due to high birth rates

As the population has grown so has the demand and the pressure

on the land for crops.

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The Results of Desertification

Soil loses its protective layer of vegetation cover.

Soil contains less humus and holds less moisture.

As it becomes more exposed to wind and occasional heavy downpours it becomes increasingly at risk from erosion.


Food Shortages.

Longer term risks to the traditional way of life. (Ways of life may have to be adapted for survival).

The Shara Desert is NOT EXPANDING. Satallite pictures show that the southern fringes contract and expand according to the periods of rain and drought.

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