| Measuring drought and drought impacts in Red Sea Province |
In the present collection of papers we have presented research results (and have discussed the results of others) on a variety of research topics conducted in Red Sea Province including environmental variation, environmental degradation, economic instability, political instability and the regional economy at the macro level, and age and gender in relation to malnutrition and drought-coping strategies at the micro level (see Figure 11.1 on the next page).
The figure above illustrates the interaction and feedback from the micro to the macro levels. By Level of Development is meant the level of development of the transportation infrastructure, the level of urbanisation, the availability of urban employment, the presence of opportunity associated with agricultural schemes, et cetera. By Economic Instability it is meant economic inflation, the highly variable performance of local and international prices, and the general economic condition at the national and regional levels regarding employment and economic investment. By Political Instability, war, banditry, and lack of national political integration if that lack of integration has destabilising effects at the regional or local levels are meant. By Location (at the micro level), the degree of isolation is meant; distance from towns or agricultural schemes. By Economic and Social Opportunities, personal or family wealth, special group membership, education, and skills are meant.
More research needs to be done at the micro level to contribute to our understanding of the impact of all of the variables mentioned above. Continued macro level monitoring of the economy and the environment are necessary as are studies of environmental change in order to help us understand more fully the wide mix of variables that condition the ability of individuals and groups to respond to adversity. Some of the papers have provided new tools and frameworks of analysis that could be useful in other studies.
Although the research presented in the present collection of papers has contributed much to our understanding of drought, drought response, and recovery in Red Sea Province, many questions remain. It is hoped that the research currently planned, underway, or nearing completion by the Environmental Research Group Oxford and the Universities of Bergen and Khartoum will add more to our understanding of the area.
The general picture that emerges from our studies is positive in some respects but negative in others. People are recovering from drought in Red Sea Province. The nutritional status of children is getting better. Rains and floods have been good and even exceptional over the last few years and livestock populations are increasing. Greater links are being forged between the rural and urban areas and drought-coping strategies are becoming more diversified. A worrying problem, however, is the impact of people on the environment of Red Sea Province and the costs to the pastoral and agricultural economy that this represents. This may increase the vulnerability of people who depend on these resources in the future.