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Climate Change: How Senegal's colonial history made it more vulnerable

‘The effects of climate change often fall hardest on the poorest – and smallholder farmers in developing countries are among those most at risk. With limited savings, limited access to credit, and uncertain access to land, water and so on, poorer farmers are unable to cope with increasingly frequent natural disasters, bad growing seasons or the degradation of agricultural land.

Because of this, building resilience to climate change among smallholders is a major focus of development agencies and philanthropic organisations including the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organisation, and Gates Foundation. Current solutions often focus heavily on individuals and households, for instance by improving access to insurance or more drought-resistant seed.

This is all very well, but such a focus tends to overlook the deeper historical roots of vulnerability to climate change and so fails to consider the longer term. Across much of the developing world, the historic legacies of colonialism play a very important role in shaping vulnerabilities in the first place. This is true in the general sense that patterns of inequality are often very strongly shaped by colonial legacies, but also in more specific ways.’1

— Nick Bernards

Download or read more online here.

  1. Nick Bernards, ‘Climate change: how Senegal’s colonial history made it more vulnerable’ in The Conversation, March 7, 2020,

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