Human-Environmental Interaction in Africa
By: Christine, Jane, Min Jae

Desertification of the Sahel
What is Desertification?
Desertification is the process by which fertile land degrades into a desert, usually in semi-arid regions. It has a detrimental impact because land that used to be productive becomes useless. Because drylands take up 40 percent of the world’s land area, desertification is a global issue that affects almost all continents, not just Africa. Research shows that around 10 to 20 percent of those drylands have already changed into desert-like areas. Countries experiencing desertification include China, New Mexico, Ethiopia, Morocco, Brazil, Uzbekistan, and more. Below is a diagram explaining how desertification occurs in Nigeria.

The effects of desertification in Nigeria

Desertification in Sahel:
The Sahel is a semi-arid region in the North Africa that serves as a transitional zone right under the Sahara desert. The Sahel is experiencing desertification at a great rate, and one of the major causes is overgrazing. Due to the recent increase in population in this region, farming area increased as well. When the animals are kept in an enclosed space for a long time, they eat grass on the field, which eventually leads to the damage of vegetation. Frequent droughts also change the Sahel into a desert; the monthly precipitation is shown in the graph below. Deforestation is another cause of desertification; more lands are getting cleared in the process of building new farms. If there are not enough plants for protection, the soil gets blown away by the wind. Desertification can also happen through incorrect irrigation methods that deposit excessive salt in the soil. Higher salinity isn’t a favorable environment for crops to grow in. So what are the effects of desertification? The obvious result are the loss of plant life and lack of vegetation due to the loss of nutrients in the soil. This eventually leads to a decrease in the amount of food supply for people, and in the long term, to serious famine and poverty. Moreover, if most of the land is bare, more floods will occur because water will flow down more quickly. Other effects include reduced water quality, air pollution, and dust storms.

Monthly precipitation in Sahel

One way to solve this issue is through aforestation. The planting of trees can reduce soil erosion and increase soil quality. Crop rotation is another solution because it involves planting different crops over different seasons, which gives nutrients to the soil. In order to stop overgrazing, rotational grazing needs to take place. This is when livestock are not fenced in the same area but constantly moved to different areas. Salt traps in the ground can also be helpful by blocking large amounts of salt getting absorbed by the soil.

Regions experiencing soil degradation


"Causes and Effects of Desertification." Desertification. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <>.

"desertification." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Desertification." The Department of Biodiversity & Conservation Biology - UWC. N.p., 1 Feb. 2001. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Desertification in the Sahel." Desertification in the Sahel. N.p., 5 Jan. 2009. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Land Commodities." Land Commodities. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Tropical High Pressure Hazards - Heatwave and Drought.." Cimatic Hazards. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <>.

"What Is ‘Desertification’ And Why Is It Important To Know About?." The Good Human. N.p., 16 Jan. 2011. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <>.

Oil pollution in the Nigerian Delta

General description of the problem globally:
Nigeria is the sixth leading oil exporter in the world. Oil was discovered in 1956 and provides 80 to 90 percent of Nigeria's income. And most of the oil is produced in the Niger Delta which is made up of nine oil producing States with about 16.7% of the Nigerian population. Oil that are produced made Nigeria rich: the wealthiest nation in Africa during 1970s. However, more than 4,000 oil spills have occurred in the Niger delta over the past four decades. Also, fires often resulted which gave respiratory diseases to the people living in the region due to the acid rain and massive soot. In addition, between 1998 and 2000, oil pipeline explosions occurred which killed many population. These oil spills are currently not cleaned up which cause environmental problems in not only sea in Nigeria but, the entire sea. Not only these incidents occur naturally but some of the cases occur intentionally because some bandits and even local civilian people drain fuel from the pipelines and sell it. Because of these poor condition in Niger Delta, some civilians form gangs which could threaten the world's energy balance and the existence of the Nigerian state itself.

Map of Nigerian Delta

These problems occur in Niger Delta because of the poor economics in Nigeria Delta and extreme corruption. For example, the Nigerian population do not understand why they are so poor even with the abundant natural resources. Therefore, in order to sustain their livings, some of them need to purposefully drain fuels and sell it. A socio-economic cause would be the presence of diversifying tribes that are against each other. Also, uncleaned oill spills in the sea and insecure tanks or pipelines cause pollution in the sea. Moreover, Nigeria government's tendency of marginalizing population in delta areas by neglecting them cause constant oil spilings and pollution in the sea. Because of these issues, oil companies are faced with increasing protests keep happening in Nigeria delta. These have included incidents of hostage-taking, closures of flow-stations, destruction, and intimidation of workers. Also, due to the government marginalizing problems in this Delta area, there is a lack of development in the delta with low basic human and economic rights.

Oil production and consumption in Nigeria

Possible Solution : In order to stop gangs that are forming in delta areas, government should provide jobs or support for the population living in Nigeria delta. For example, money that is earned from the oil production should be used to improve the infrastructure such as schools and health faclities. This could solve problems of local civilians forming gangs or people who intentionally drain oil pipelines because if they have jobs and therefore earn money, then they will Also, the government, instead of marginalizing or relegating the people living in Nigeria delta areas, should consider this oil pollution problem seriously. Moreover, Nigeria should elect a president or officials who can start making economic reforms in order to pay back the debts borrowed from other nations such as America. In addition, the government and the civilian both should focus on cleaning up the oil spills and think about a way that can minimize the shock by inventing a new tank that prevents oil from spilling. Another solution would be to nationalize oil supplies, meaning that the government is responsible of oil production instead of private oil companies being in charge.


"A Nigerian Oil Curse?." The Civilising Mission. N.p., 30 Apr. 2010. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. <>.

BBC NEWS | Africa | Nigerian Oil Fuels Delta Conflict." BBC News - Home. 26 Jan. 2006. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Google Images." Google. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Google Images." Google. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <>.

Kaiser, Henry J. "Median Age (Years) -" - Global Data on HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, and More. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Niger Civil War 1990-1995." - Wars, Military History, International Relations. 16 Dec. 2000. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Niger Major Infectious Diseases - Demographics." Index Mundi - Country Facts. 2010. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Nigeria's Oil Industry." SourceWatch. 11 Aug. 2008. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <'s_oil_industry>.

The Aswan Dam
Map of the Aswan Dam

The Aswan Dam is located in Aswan, Egypt. It is in Nile River, and controls the Nile river’s flow. The first Aswan Dam was built in 1902 and is now considered as the low Aswan Dam. As the third largest reservoir in the world, it is a major source for Egypt’s hydroelectricity. However, despite bringing some advantages to Egypt farmers, the Aswan Dam has also brought negative consequences.

The Hydroelectric plant located in Aswan Dam.

The lake formed by the dam was built in a place that is hot and dry. Since the water is trapped, the possibility that the water will evaporate is higher than the flowing water in the river. The amount of freshwater available will decrease in Africa dramatically as Nile river is one of the biggest fresh water source in Africa. On the side of the river that is flowing to the Mediterranean sea, the water level is low compared to other rivers. This leads to increased reproduction of algae, which pollutes the water. The water is also the birthplace for detrimental insects such as mosquitoes. The artificial lake, Lake Nasser, is a perfect location for mosquitos to give birth. These mosquitoes can lead to numerous diseases such as malaria. Therefore, the increase of mosquitoes means increased rate of malaria. The dam also blocks nutrients from flowing to the Nile River. Although the flood might have been controlled, it also blocked nutrients from entering the other side of the Nile RIver.

Amount of available water in African countries

During the construction of the dam, some of the civilians who were living near the river floodplain were forced to move out and migrate in to other places. The government was criticized for moving people out forcefully despite their will. People who were moved had difficulty trying to adapt to the new environment. The government also paid little amount of money to enforce the migrants. There were treasures and historical monuments near the NIle River. When the Lake Nasser was flooded, they had to move some of the sites such as Philae, Amada, and Abu Simbel.

However, in order to solve the problem, people cannot take down the dam because it bring numerous benefits to the farmers such as controlling when the flood will flow. Thus the better solution would be supporting people who are dying from Malaria and providing anti-malaria to them. Trying to kill all the mosquitoes that causes Malaria would be extremely difficult as their is possibility to pollute the water during the process. Another solution that the government can do is to deposit soils from the nutrients to the side of the river where soil nutrient is poor in order to support the farmers that are suffering from low nutrients thus leading to poor income.



"Aswan Travel Information." Somali Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Environmental Impact of the Aswan High Dam." :: ::. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Lake Nasser." Geographyjim, MYP and IB Diploma Geography. Web. 01 May 2011. <>.

"Principles of Cartography." Rutgers Cartography Lab. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. <>.

"The First Aswan Dam." University of Michigan. Web. 01 May 2011. <>.