A fading lake with sand dunes taking over the lands on the edges of Timbuktu, Mali has made life unbearable for residents and livestock with some dying.
Abdul Karim one of the many residents who has been hardly hit by the crisis explained that the “Whole area was filled with water.
Then the water receded and the trees started to grow around the lake. The trees started to disappear and people cultivated the land when there were no more trees. During the first rebellion, displaced people settled here and destroyed the forest, and when there was no more forest, the dunes formed.”
“Between breeders and farmers, there is not a day without conflict. Because the space is small, everyone wants to exploit it. This is the reason for the tensions. After harvesting our products, we transport them with a lot of risks. Even the women are exposed. Their maize can be intercepted along the way.” said Mahamadou Ousmane, a farmer.
The lack of rains is causing houses and schools to be gradually buried in dunes. This has a huge impact on education in the area.
“It’s a school of about 400 students. 400 students mean a whole generation. A lost generation, a generation prepared for the exodus or for recruitment. But unfortunately, there is a force stronger than us that has come to destroy the school; the advancing desert, the erosion, the silting. So, we are in an area where since 2012, our communes only exist with the support of partners,” said Mayor of Bintagoungou, Hama Abacrene.
According to the United Nations, droughts in the African Sahel are set to deepen and become more frequent, as rainfalls dry up and global warming takes its toll on the region almost entirely dependent on farming and animal herding.