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Burkina Faso: Agricultural Expansion Could Spark Unforeseen Climate Change

Rainfall and groundwater are crucial for crops in West Africa, yet agriculture may make droughts worse and lead to crop failure, according to a study co-authored by a UBC researcher.

Researchers discovered that a Burkina Faso savannah received more rainfall than nearby land cleared for agriculture, posing serious questions about the sustainability of current farming practices in semi-arid regions. Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in West Africa, urgently needs to improve agricultural production to support its population of 16 million.

"We wanted to understand what happens to rainfall, runoff and groundwater levels when you transform a savannah into agricultural land, something that's happening more frequently as West Africa tries to produce more food," said Marc Parlange, a co-author of the study and a hydrology specialist and professor of civil engineering at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

WorldFish/Felix Clay


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