Tandroy - Settlements

The average population of rural settlements varies from a few persons to a few hundred. Settlements are divided between two contrasting types: those with a recognizable center, in which the closely juxtaposed houses and cattle pens are aligned to the cardinal points, according to the seniority and relative ranks of the village members, and those in which the houses and cattle pens of individual families, each enclosed by cactus or agave, are widely dispersed. At the same time, the mobility for which the Tandroy are renowned is reflected in a shifting pattern of settlement. Human settlement in the Androy involves both centripetal and centrifugal processes, although the exact nature of the environmental and sociopolitical factors that determine these processes is not yet known. The villages are connected by footpaths, some of which are accessible by cart. The Tandroy house is rectangular, its walls between 2.5 and 3.5 meters long, constructed mostly of timber planks but sometimes of thatch, and with a gabled roof of thatch. Oriented to the cardinal points, it generally has two doors and little furniture, save for the bed. The interior is usually furnished with mats. In the towns, one finds houses of cement with corrugated iron roofs.

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