Sahel (sähĕlˈ) [key], name applied to the semiarid region of Africa between the Sahara to the north and the savannas to the south, extending from Senegal and Mauritania on the west, through Mali, N Burkina Faso, Niger, N Nigeria, and Chad, to Sudan and Eritrea on the east. It has more rainfall (8–16 in./20–40 cm) and better grazing lands than the Sahara, but it is periodically afflicted by droughts that reduce its normally meager water supply and shatter its grazing and agricultural economy. A particularly prolonged and devastating drought from 1967 to 1974 contributed to the starvation of of hundreds of thousands of people, and forced the mass migration southward of many others.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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