Populations, farming systems and social transitions in Sahelian Niger : an agent-based modeling approach
The Sahelian Niger farming systems spatial expansion over the last century is about to reach its end. Meanwhile, rural societies organizations & managements of economic activities have evolved. This research objective is to develop an integrative approach to evaluate the impact of social factors on farming system transitions. The study focuses on three contrasted sites of Sahelian Niger. Regional, village & individual level interviewing tools are used to define differentiated individual behavior rules to be translated into an Agent-based model simulating the populations & their related "terroirs" along two or three generations. The model is based on reactive individual agents acting empirically, i.e. without optimisation processes.
The model is realistic concerning the individual behaviors & realistically simulates their impacts on village populations & natural resources. Simulation results show that once dominant unitary families have shifted towards non-cooperative ones around the 70's. Simulations with no transition processes of inheritance system & family organization show that villages specialize themselves: more a "terroir" is well endowed, more its population involves itself in local activities. Introducing such processes, differentiation occurs within the population level, subdividing it into specializing groups according to their village anteriority & manpower & land availability. Introducing development proposals (inorganic fertilizer availability & yield-based inventory credit) reinforce this social differentiation: only well-endowed sites & among them, only favored groups have the saving capacity to get involved. The securizing inventory credit proposal has more success than the intensification-oriented inorganic fertilizer use.
Combining different individual-level tools in a multidisciplinary approach is efficient in underlining the impact of micro level constraints on long-term population evolutions in such constrained environments. Such approach may be used in development diagnosis to identify the constraint hierarchy affecting differentially the population. Simulating population behaviors keep open epistemological debates that have strong implications for rural populations.
School:Université catholique de Louvain
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:modélisation multi agents sahelian niger sahel nigérien agent based modeling social transitions sociales
Date of Publication:06/23/2008