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Book Book Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Cattle, women, and wells: managing household survival in the Sahel
Author:Toulmin, CamillaISNI
City of publisher:Oxford
Publisher:Clarendon Press
Geographic term:Mali
rural households
Abstract:How people adapt and survive in the harsh environment of the drought-prone Sahelian region to the south of the Saharan desert forms the subject of this book. The author concentrates on the choices facing farmers in the small Bambara village of Kala in central Mali. These farmers have had continually to adapt their farming methods in order to survive. The study shows how such changes have taken place and why some families are more successful than others in surviving and prospering. It provides an analysis of millet yields, and of returns to investment in ploughs, wells, and breeding cattle. Decisions regarding marriage, child-rearing, and household organization are discussed within an economic framework to demonstrate the strong economic rationale behind choices made in these spheres. The book concludes that larger, more diverse households found within this society (containing as many as forty to sixty people) are much better able to resist the risks of drought and illness than are small nuclear family groups. Environmental issues are shown to be crucial to the longer term viability of such a community. The book describes the findings of a two-year period of fieldwork lasting from April 1980 to March 1982.