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SP30 - Rural/urban space in sub-Saharan Africa and the dynamics of climate change

Convened by Sónia Frias (University of Lisbon), Arlindo Fortes (Universidade de Cabo Verde and Univeristy of Lisbon) and Marcelo Moreira (Universidade Estadual de Goiás, Brazil, and University of Lisbon)

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The flows of populations from the countryside to the cities, whatever they may have been, or whatever the reasons for their consolidation in different African countries, have contributed to the solid transformation of the rural and the urban worlds. In addition to the spatial dimension of this movement, there are socio-economic and cultural dimensions that, more than inducing changes, have been transforming those realities very firmly and quickly, not only at the level of space but also at the level of communities. There are evident variations concerning production and its impact on the agricultural system, namely the impoverishment of families, migration, and increasingly environmental changes. We refer very specifically to climate change, as the African continent is currently warmer than it was 100 years ago.

Presently, the effects of climate change in Africa are already forcing changes on agriculture generating marginal farming systems. If effective measures are not taken, in the next decades agricultural systems in Africa will be very seriously affected as there will be a drastic reduction in land suitable for agriculture. Areas with greater agricultural potential will become arid, and coastal areas will be submerged, affecting both production, fisheries, and human settlements. Climate change will hit hardest in communities that already face social and economic challenges such as living in socio-economic poverty. There is a growing consensus that climate change will cause more harm to poor countries because poor people rely more heavily on natural resources for survival.

In this panel, we propose to generate new arguments about the challenges posed to rural and urban population, challenges that forces them to continually create new rhythms of adjustment, and the development of new skills, logic of thought, and behaviour.