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Predictors of Drought in Inland Valley Landscapes and Enabling Factors for Rice Farmers’ Mitigation Measures in the Sudan-Sahel Zone

Drought is a noteworthy cause of low agricultural profitability and of crop production vulnerability, yet in numerous countries of Africa little to no consideration has been paid to readiness for drought calamity, particularly to spatial evaluation and indicators of drought occurrence. In this study, biophysical and socio-economic data, farmers’ community surveys and secondary data from remote sensing on soil characteristics and water demand were used to evaluate the predictors of drought in inland valley rice-based production systems and the factors affecting farmers’ mitigation measures. The study intervened in three West African countries located in the Sudan-Sahel zone, viz. Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria. Significant drying trends occurred at latitudes below 11°30′ whilst significant wetting trends were discerned at latitude above 11°30′. Droughts were more frequent and had their longest duration in the states of Niger and Kaduna located in Nigeria and in western Burkina Faso during the period 1995–2014. Among 21 candidate predictors, average annual standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index and duration of groundwater availability were the most important predictors of drought occurrence in inland valleys rice based-production systems. Land ownership and gender affected the commitment of rice farmers to use any mitigation measure against drought. Drought studies in inland valleys should include climatic water balance and groundwater data. Securing property rights and focusing on women’s association would improve farmers’ resilience and advance drought mitigation measures.