Irrigation and the Soninke People: Organisational and Management Problems: Current Situation and Prospects

Abstract

"Like that of any other society, the history of the Soninke people is closely connected with the availability of water. In our study, we consider the case of the Soninke in the Sahelian region of present day Mali and more particularly along the Senegal river and its tributary, the Faleme. Three phenomena are presently producing fundamental transformations in Soninke farming practices: drought which affects the whole population; development schemes in the Senegal river basin affecting the valley dwellers; and immigration. The second aspect took our interest and led us to base the study on experience with irrigation schemes, taking as our examples the Somankidi-coura, Moussala, Gakoura, Sobokou, and Lani-modi schemes on the Senegal river and Fegui, Sangalou and Gouthioube on the Faleme. Our study considers a series of questions within the context of the Soninke culture, which is not a simple task. Soninke society, although it has become more open to the outside world since the decline of the empire of Ghana, nonetheless retains a traditional culture and its own sets of values, shrewdly absorbing external inputs in an unhurried, measured, discerning and tactful manner."

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Keywords

irrigation, water resources, indigenous knowledge

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