Tuaregs of North Africa. Image credit thisfabtrek.com

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes:Agriculture:Farming types in Africa: Subsistence farming: Problems caused by nomadism

  • The way of life led by the nomads creates a lot of problems to the environment, to themselves, to other people and to African governments.
  • These problems include:

Cattle diseases.

  • These spread as they migrate because they do not vaccinate their animals.


  • To most nomads, livestock are a symbol of wealth and therefore numbers are more important than quality.
  • This leads to uncontrolled overgrazing.
  • It has been suggested that nomadism in the Sahel region of West Africa has been partly responsible for the southward advance of the Sahara desert with overgrazing being responsible for desertification.


  • The Masai in East Africa and the Fulani of the Sahel cut branches of trees to fed their cattle on the shooting foliage before the rainy season, destroying the vegetation in the process.

Soil Erosion

  • This is accelerated by overgrazing, deforestation and moving of people and livestock along traditional routes.

Increased drought and desertification.

  • This is due to overgrazing, deforestation and soil erosion.
  • Watering holes dry up due to siltation, evaporation sources are reduced, the atmosphere dries up and drought results.


  • There are occasional conflicts with settled farmers, leading to bloody tribal wars.
  • Some conflicts are because nomads do not know any political boundaries and move at free-will, spreading their destruction in the process.

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page