Burkina Faso Rapper-Turned-Farmer Rhymes on Climate Change

Africa’s Sahel region is seeing the worst effects of climate warming anywhere on the planet, according to the United Nations.Farmers bear the brunt of the changes because 80% of the Sahel’s economy is agrarian.    Art Melody, a musician in Burkina Faso who raps in the local Djula and Moore languages, knows from experience the negative impact on farm production because he is a farmer himself. His songs convey the fear and emotion felt by millions of people across the region because of the impact of global warming.   Art Melody says his grandparents have told him the rainy season used to start in April but now can start in July, so there is less rain and more heat.  FILE – A man herds his goats in the village of Samba, Passore province, northern Burkina Faso, March 29, 2016.The U.N. says the impact of desertification and drought on farmers is one of several factors causing the Sahel conflict in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Combatants include terror groups linked to Islamic State and al-Qaida.  More than two million people have been displaced because of the fighting, and more than 20,000 people have been killed since 2012, according to data compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. “When there’s a drought, it’s a disaster, it’s hell,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, executive secretary of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification. “When that situation happens, you have two options — flight or fight. Either you flee because there is no way you can produce anymore, or you fight with your neighbors for the limited resources that are still there.”FILE – People work in a dry field near Diapaga, 300 kms northeast of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, March 21, 2012.Conflicts often arise between ethnic groups that traditionally grow crops and those that herd livestock, since land usually cannot be used for both purposes.  While that is a major obstacle, new techniques and technologies can help integrate agricultural production with livestock farming through agro-ecological actions, says Marc Gnasonre, a representative of a Burkinabe farmers union.  As for Art Melody, his songs attempt to raise awareness of the plight of farmers because, he says, if people’s eyes are closed, they will always end up destroying everything, whether it is plants or human relationships.Until the effects of climate change in the Sahel are mitigated, farming will likely get harder and the Sahel’s conflict will likely get worse.  

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