A highly vulnerable agricultural system has emerged in northwest Africa owing to historical, demographic, economic, technological, and policy-related factors. In all three countries, increasing population pressure and higher market demand have exerted pressure on local natural resources, resulting in the extension of cultivation to lower-rainfall areas and the reduction of fallowing. Data collected during extensive field research in Morocco suggest that most northwest African farmers can successfully endure only a single year of meteorological drought without significant hardship. If drought continues through a second year or longer, socioeconomic impacts become critical, even devastating.

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