West African Waterworlds: Narratives of Absence versus Narratives of Excess

Mette Fog Olwig, Laura Vang Rasmussen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


In the 2000s northern Ghana and northern Burkina Faso experienced extreme flooding as a result of unusually heavy rains attributed to climate change. As a consequence evidence of destruction from flooding was dramatically present during our fieldwork in the area in 2009-10. Nevertheless, we kept encountering a narrative of desertification with little mention of floods and saw that the narrative influenced both local everyday life agendas and global policy agendas. We here discuss how and why water’s absence has remained the dominant environmental narrative, eclipsing the increasingly relevant problem of water’s excess. We suggest that the emerging climate change narrative might prove powerful enough to change the desertification narrative’s dominance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWaterworlds : Anthropology in Fluid Environments
EditorsKirsten Hastrup, Frida Hastrup
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherBerghahn Books
Publication dateNov 2015
ISBN (Print)978-1-78238-946-0
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78238-947-7
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015

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