IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

A system dynamics approach to land use changes in agro-pastoral systems on the desert margins of Sahel


  • Rasmussen, Laura Vang
  • Rasmussen, Kjeld
  • Reenberg, Anette
  • Proud, Simon


Land use changes in the Sahel are influenced by multiple socio-economic and bio-physical driving forces that result in a complex and dynamic land use system. This paper outlines to what extent a system dynamics approach may serve to nuance the understanding of Sahelian agro-pastoral systems. Firstly, by using the Sahelian part of Northern Burkina Faso as a case study, we build a simple model that includes the most influential drivers of land use changes and their impacts in the land use system. As the developed model is proven to successfully simulate the main directions of change in the land use system, we employ the model to explore the impacts of important and realistic alterations in those factors driving land use change. This is done by generating ‘what if’ scenarios. The results show that ‘what if’ scenarios based on sudden events, such as a drop in millet prices or a total stop in circular migration, have a more pronounced impact on the system than other more long term alterations such as increased rainfall variability. As the developed model allows testing simple hypotheses about the dynamics of land use systems, the approach serves as a useful complementary tool to more established approaches in advancing land change science.

Suggested Citation

  • Rasmussen, Laura Vang & Rasmussen, Kjeld & Reenberg, Anette & Proud, Simon, 2012. "A system dynamics approach to land use changes in agro-pastoral systems on the desert margins of Sahel," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 56-64.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:107:y:2012:i:c:p:56-64
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2011.12.002

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Reenberg, Anette & Paarup-Laursen, Bjarke, 1997. "Determinants for land use strategies in a Sahelian agro-ecosystem--Anthropological and ecological geographical aspects of natural resource management," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 53(2-3), pages 209-229.
    2. Reardon, Thomas & Matlon, Peter & Delgado, Christopher, 1988. "Coping with household-level food insecurity in drought-affected areas of Burkina Faso," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 16(9), pages 1065-1074, September.
    3. Powell, J. M. & Fernandez-Rivera, S. & Hiernaux, P. & Turner, M. D., 1996. "Nutrient cycling in integrated rangeland/cropland systems of the Sahel," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 52(2-3), pages 143-170.
    4. Reij, Chris & Tappan, Gary & Smale, Melinda, 2009. "Agroenvironmental transformation in the Sahel: Another kind of “Green Revolution"," IFPRI discussion papers 914, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. Saqalli, M. & Gérard, B. & Bielders, C.L. & Defourny, P., 2011. "Targeting rural development interventions: Empirical agent-based modeling in Nigerien villages," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 104(4), pages 354-364, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Issa Ouedraogo & Cheikh Mbow & Michael Balinga & Henry Neufeldt, 2015. "Transitions in Land Use Architecture under Multiple Human Driving Forces in a Semi-Arid Zone," Land, MDPI, vol. 4(3), pages 1-18, July.
    2. Kun Cheng & Qiang Fu & Xi Chen & Tianxiao Li & Qiuxiang Jiang & Xiaosong Ma & Ke Zhao, 2015. "Adaptive Allocation Modeling for a Complex System of Regional Water and Land Resources Based on Information Entropy and its Application," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 29(14), pages 4977-4993, November.
    3. Issa Ouedraogo & Jürgen Runge & Joachim Eisenberg & Jennie Barron & Séraphine Sawadogo-Kaboré, 2014. "The Re-Greening of the Sahel: Natural Cyclicity or Human-Induced Change?," Land, MDPI, vol. 3(3), pages 1-16, September.
    4. Liu, Dunnan & Zhao, Weidong & Li, Zhihao & Xu, Xiaofeng & Xiao, Bowen & Niu, Dongxiao, 2018. "Can hydropower develop as expected in China? A scenario analysis based on system dynamics model," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 118-129.
    5. Liliana Ruiz Acosta & David Andrés Camargo Mayorga & Mauricio Becerra Fernández, 2019. "Proposal of a Social Responsibility Indicator Model Based on Systems Dynamics," Proceedings of the 14th International RAIS Conference, August 19-20, 2019 003LR, Research Association for Interdisciplinary Studies.
    6. Rasmussen, Laura Vang, 2018. "Re-Defining Sahelian ‘Adaptive Agriculture’ when Implemented Locally: Beyond Techno-fix Solutions," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 274-282.
    7. Dang, Anh Nguyet & Kawasaki, Akiyuki, 2017. "Integrating biophysical and socio-economic factors for land-use and land-cover change projection in agricultural economic regions," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 344(C), pages 29-37.
    8. Müller, Birgit & Schulze, Jule & Kreuer, David & Linstädter, Anja & Frank, Karin, 2015. "How to avoid unsustainable side effects of managing climate risk in drylands — The supplementary feeding controversy," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 153-165.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Turner, Matthew D. & Moumouni, Oumarou, 2018. "The dividing of fields in Sudano-Sahelian West Africa: The roles of soil fertility variation and legal doctrine," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 362-374.
    2. Turner, Matthew D. & Williams, Timothy O., 2002. "Livestock Market Dynamics and Local Vulnerabilities in the Sahel," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 683-705, April.
    3. Turner, Matthew D., 2016. "Rethinking Land Endowment and Inequality in Rural Africa: The Importance of Soil Fertility," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 258-273.
    4. Christian Rogg, 2006. "Asset Portfolios in Africa: Evidence from Rural Ethiopia," WIDER Working Paper Series RP2006-145, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    5. Konseiga, Adama, 2006. "Household Migration Decisions as Survival Strategy: The Case of Burkina Faso," Discussion Papers 276269, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    6. Jan Willem Gunning & Paul Collier, 1999. "Explaining African Economic Performance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 64-111, March.
    7. Saqalli, M. & Gérard, B. & Bielders, C. & Defourny, P., 2010. "Testing the impact of social forces on the evolution of Sahelian farming systems: A combined agent-based modeling and anthropological approach," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 221(22), pages 2714-2727.
    8. Klasen, Stephan & Meyer, Katrin M. & Dislich, Claudia & Euler, Michael & Faust, Heiko & Gatto, Marcel & Hettig, Elisabeth & Melati, Dian N. & Jaya, I. Nengah Surati & Otten, Fenna & Pérez-Cruzado, Cés, 2016. "Economic and ecological trade-offs of agricultural specialization at different spatial scales," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 111-120.
    9. Nillesen, Eleonora & Verwim, Philip, 2010. "A Phoenix in Flames? Portfolio Choice and Violence in Civil War in Rural Burundi," WIDER Working Paper Series 044, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. de Ridder, Nico & Breman, Henk & van Keulen, Herman & Stomph, Tjeerd Jan, 2004. "Revisiting a `cure against land hunger': soil fertility management and farming systems dynamics in the West African Sahel," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 109-131, May.
    11. Nancy McCarthy & Talip Kilic & Alejandro de la Fuente & Joshua M. Brubaker, 2018. "Shelter from the Storm? Household-Level Impacts of, and Responses to, the 2015 Floods in Malawi," Economics of Disasters and Climate Change, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 237-258, October.
    12. Morduch, Jonathan, 1999. "Between the State and the Market: Can Informal Insurance Patch the Safety Net?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 14(2), pages 187-207, August.
    13. Reardon, Thomas, 1997. "Using evidence of household income diversification to inform study of the rural nonfarm labor market in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 735-747, May.
    14. Harold Alderman & Christina H. Paxson, 1994. "Do the Poor Insure? A Synthesis of the Literature on Risk and Consumption in Developing Countries," International Economic Association Series, in: Edmar L. Bacha (ed.), Economics in a Changing World, chapter 3, pages 48-78, Palgrave Macmillan.
    15. Rufino, M.C. & Dury, J. & Tittonell, P. & van Wijk, M.T. & Herrero, M. & Zingore, S. & Mapfumo, P. & Giller, K.E., 2011. "Competing use of organic resources, village-level interactions between farm types and climate variability in a communal area of NE Zimbabwe," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 175-190, February.
    16. Maxwell, Daniel G., 1996. "Measuring food insecurity: the frequency and severity of "coping strategies"," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 291-303, July.
    17. Alexandra Tapsoba & Pascale Combes Motel & Jean-Louis Combes, 2019. "Remittances, food security and climate variability: The case of Burkina Faso," Working Papers halshs-02364775, HAL.
    18. Zimmerman, Frederick J. & Carter, Michael R., 2003. "Asset smoothing, consumption smoothing and the reproduction of inequality under risk and subsistence constraints," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 233-260, August.
    19. Walker, Thomas S. & Pitoro, Raul & Tomo, Alda & Sitoe, Isabel & Salencia, Celestino & Mahanzule, Rosalina & Donovan, Cynthia & Mazuze, Feliciano M., 2006. "Estabelecimento de Prioridades para a Investigação Agrária no Sector Público em Moçambique Baseado nos Dados do Trabalho de Inquérito Agrícola (TIA)," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 55866, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    20. Matthew D. Turner & Molly Teague & Augustine Ayantunde, 2021. "Livelihood, culture and patterns of food consumption in rural Burkina Faso," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 13(5), pages 1193-1213, October.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:107:y:2012:i:c:p:56-64. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.