Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Culture Adapts

Far away from the hype of media and the contrived arguments of government, an ancient culture with long established habits has thrown in the towel and changed its ways due to climate change.

This story by National Public Radio tells of the Taureg people, desert nomads who have, for centuries, herded their livestock in regions just beyond the reach of the Sahara.

Over the past 40 years, persistent drought has forced the Tuareg to give up their wandering way of life. To survive they have had to start settling in villages and cultivating land to secure a food supply which is less susceptible to drought.
Drought has killed off much of their livestock. Their diet has changed from a meat and dairy base to more grains and vegetables. Like many other nomadic peoples from history, they have settled down and become farmers and gardeners, but not so much out of choice as out of necessity. And with the abandonment of the nomadic lifestyle, other aspects of their culture are fading away, including the strict domination by adult males. As children and women play more essential parts in the agrarian communities, they are claiming more power in the social structure.

The culture may disappear, but the people may have a new lease on life.

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