The image of Africa in the modern world has come to be shaped by perceptions of the drylands and their problems of poverty, drought, degradation, and famine. Michael Mortimore offers an alternative and revisionist thesis, dismissing on theoretical and empirical grounds the conventional view of runaway desertification, driven by population growth and inappropriate land use. In its place he suggests a more optimistic model of sustainable land use, based on researched case studies from East and West Africa where indigenous technological adaptation has put population growth and market opportunities to advantage. He also proposes a more appropriate set of policy priorities to support dryland peoples in their efforts to sustain land and livelihoods. The result is a remarkably clear synthesis of much of the best work that has emerged over past years.
1. Introduction; 2. Global perspectives on Africa's drylands; 3. A smallholder's perspective; 4. Risk in the rangelands; 5. Risk for the farmer; 6. Risk for the household; 7. Degradation; 8. Intensification; 9. Conservation; 10. Systems in transition.