Semiarid zone, western and north-central Africa. Extending from Senegal eastward to The Sudan, it forms a narrow transitional band between the arid Sahara to the north and the humid savannas to the south. Beginning in the late 20th century, it was subjected to increased desertification and soil erosion caused by natural climate changes as well as overgrazing and overfarming. The countries of the zone suffered a devastating drought and famine in the early 1970s, and by 1973 sections of the Sahara had advanced southward as much as 60 mi (100 km). Severe drought and famine again struck the region in 1983–85. Efforts by local governments to combat desertification in the Sahel have met with limited success.

Variants of SAHEL

Sahel Arabic Sahil

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on Sahel, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up Sahel? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.