Review from ROAPE Volume 3 Number 6
Pastoral Nomads and Development: Select Biblio (Oxby)
This short guide to the literature on nomads and development lists 150 books and articles, arranged in three very broad categories, with no index; only thirteen are actually annotated. The selection is deliberately narrow, confined to items explicitly on pastoral nomads, despite the fact that the list "was compiled in response to a request by Christian Aid for a practical guide to the literature". The reason, therefore, for its existence is the recent drought in the Sahel and Ethiopia and the issues this raised for Africanists and relief organisations: the relationship between food shortage and capitalist agricultural development schemes, and the problem of what forms of relief would do least long term damage to those in need. Both of these are considered in the pamphlet's introduction: indeed they are its main focus. The bibliography, however, carefully omits any work for which these are the central concerns, such as Meillassoux on the Sahel or Bondestam on the Afars of the Awash Valley in Ethiopia (see this Review No. 1, and the bibliographical supplement to No. 2). Apart from anthropological data, what one would learn from the sources cited is only what has in the past proved ineffective or damaging, and the degree to which capitalist agricultural development schemes have resulted in food shortages in nomad areas-not why this should be so, and thus not what is the most effective political strategy to follow. The bibliography therefore fails in its principal object, though it is still a handy partial introduction to its subject. For those who can read French, the recent Secheresse et Famines du Sahel edited by Jean Copans (Paris, Maspero) is far more use, both in its text and bibliography.