Climate Change at Ground Zero

Burkina Faso's farmers may know little of the physical causes of climate change, but they know about its effects – not least the huge variability in rainfall patterns, from droughts to flooding, which lead to lost harvests, the erosion of pastureland, and food crises. Can sustainable agriculture make a difference?

OUAGADOUGOU – Burkina Faso is located in the heart of the Sahel, which means that it is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries when it comes to climate change. Its farmers may know little of the physical causes of global warming, but they know about its effects – not least the huge variability in rainfall patterns, from droughts to flooding, which lead to lost harvests, the erosion of pastureland, and food crises.

As a result, the concept of sustainable agriculture has been gaining ground for several years, both internationally and in Burkina Faso. The term features in political discourse and has become a key approach to global agricultural development. Indeed, sustainability is now a driving force in agriculture – and as important as productivity was in previous decades.

The concept of sustainable agriculture is inextricably linked to that of sustainable development, first defined in 1987 as a model of economic growth “that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

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