Wednesday, 29 July 2009
It's now over 3o years since I travelled through Niger to the edge of the Sahara. Even our last visit to West Africa was back in 2000, to Gambia. Between those two times migration within West Africa had increased a great deal. The Tuareg people are among those who've long lived as nomads in the area. But it seemed to us in 2000 that so many more people were on the move, not really living nomadic lives but trying to escape wars, drought and poverty and generally seeking better ways of life. There were still people very strong in spirit and enjoying the present though and these pictures of migration from West Africa, across the desert to Europe, I find very poignant. A reminder of how much I take for granted as an employed Western European citizen. One prediction concerning climate change is that there will be a lot more mass migration from parts of the world debilitated by droughts and floods. Many are also made homeless by large-scale development projects. I was thinking Jim Lovelock's predictions, that climate change could kill nearly all of us, are too gloomy. But I think we've certainly yet to face up to what many in West Africa have already experienced, in terms of what mass migration might mean.