Ewan Robinson: Decentralized forest management and environmental subjectivities in Ngañik, Senegal


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Presentation at the STEPS Conference 2010 - Pathways to Sustainability: Agendas for a new politics of environment, development and social justice


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  • Explain the local convention.
  • I will present the initial results of ongoing ethnographic fieldwork in Ngañik. The focus will be on the empirical story rather than on a detailed theoretical framework. This presentation will focus on individual and group incentives and orientations.
  • The portion of Agrawal’s argument which is becoming is best known concerns changes in orientations towards environmental management and protection (i.e. environmental subjectivities).
  • According to Agrawal, individual involvement is the key factor contributing to environmental orientations, based on survey data from Kumaon, India.
  • Paint with very broad brush strokes the history of land use and livelihood change in the general region: The Peanut Basin.
  • I won’t talk in detail about the activities undertaken during the project interventions, which include many of the mainstream ‘participatory development’ techniques I’m sure many people are familiar with. I can touch on these more during questions if people are interested. Instead, I thought I would just elicit some of the criteria used by the outside actors that judge the Ngañik program a success.
  • The ultimate outcome is that local authorities were granted limited control over subsistence and low-value commercial use of forest resources. Perhaps part of the negotiations between project staff and forest service and Ministerial authorities settled on the compromise to exclude commercial production without management plans.
  • Which kinds of rules ended up being enforced in practice? Are local institutions coming apart or coming together?
  • Acknowledge that it’s far from everyone who has universally adopted new protectionist orientations. Real differences appear to exist between men who do most of the enforcing and women, as well as among villages. In ongoing research I will seek to tease out some of these differences.
  • What’s the purpose of the points on this slide? How does point #3 differ from the previous slide about local ownership and criticism of the environmental effectiveness of central control.
  • So we return to the questions posed initially about the Environmentality framework. I do not propose to answer these questions: Which factors drive the development of environmental subjects, when, and how? Instead I will just point to some initial trends in my observations that I feel warrant further explanation. To attribute environmental orientations to only static identities, hegemonic discourses, or individual involvement in regulation would be to miss the subtle interaction of these processes. As Agrawal points out, what requires explanation is how and why certain people come to adopt particular orientations towards the environment and its protection, while others do not. Acknowledge my methodological limitations: I am looking at variations among individuals and locales. But I do not have time-series observations to demonstrate and measure these changes in individuals. Rather, I focus on perceptions of change and the history out of which they arose.
  • Ewan Robinson: Decentralized forest management and environmental subjectivities in Ngañik, Senegal

    1. 1. Decentralized forest management and environmental subjectivities in Ngañik, Senegal Ewan Robinson Department of Geography University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign September 23, 2010 Pathways to Sustainability Conference IDS, University of Sussex
    2. 2. What’s surprising about decentralized management in Ngañik? <ul><li>Decentralized forest management is regarded as a success… </li></ul><ul><li>…in a region with almost no forests. </li></ul><ul><li>Residents care about protecting forests... </li></ul><ul><li>…which contribute only marginally to their incomes. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Decentralized Forest Governance <ul><li>Powers, Representation, and Accountability framework (Ribot 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Does participation alter people? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Environmental subjectivities (Agrawal 2005) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Do people seek to alter institutions? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Democratic articulation (Chhatre 2008) </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Environmentality (Agrawal 2005) <ul><li>Governmentalized localities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The state transfers limited management powers are diverse local authorities. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It trades coercive control for “intimate” disciplining. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Regulatory communities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New local authorities enforce regulations on resource users. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Environmental subjectivities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Through participation in regulation, individuals develop new orientations towards the environment. </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. What drives Environmental Subjectivities? <ul><li>Involvement > Identity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct involvement in regulation, rather than social identities, drives individuals’ environmental orientations. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Involvement > Discourse </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Individuals build orientations through involvement rather than merely adopting prevalent discourses. </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Decentralization in Senegal <ul><li>Legal reforms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Law on the National Domain (1964) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Participatory’ Forest Code (1993) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decentralization Laws (1996) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New Forestry Code (1998) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revised Forest Code under development (2011+) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Devolution curtailed in practice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Case studies in high-value charcoal production forests (Ribot 1995, Faye 2006, Bandiaky 2008). </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Landscapes and Livelihoods in Ngañik <ul><li>Colonial: Immigration into the Peanut Basin. </li></ul><ul><li>Post-Independence: State policies encouraged extensive cash-crops, replacing fallows. </li></ul><ul><li>Structural adjustment and neglect. </li></ul>
    8. 8. How is decentralization success defined?
    9. 9. Regeneration, not Reforestation Photo source: GTGRN (GTZ) 2005.
    10. 10. ‘ Rational’ firewood production Photo source: GTGRN (GTZ) 2005.
    11. 11. “ Their level of organization is what is impressive.” Author’s photo
    12. 12. Basis in self-interest <ul><li>Material benefits are relatively minor: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Income for women from wild fruits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rotational firewood harvests </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revenues for village investments and crisis loans </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ngañik residents were not allowed access to lucrative urban fuelwood markets. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Transportation permits require expensive management plans. </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Self-regulation <ul><li>Some villages continue to profit from rotational firewood cutting. </li></ul><ul><li>The rural council continues to allocate additional land to protected areas. </li></ul><ul><li>Forest Service agents remain primary enforcers, now with local partners. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Kuy amul doole mënul jàpp morom am.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Before you only had to look out for one person. Now there are many eyes in the bush.” </li></ul></ul></ul>
    14. 14. How have Environmental Subjectivities changed? <ul><li>Local ownership and responsibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The Forest Service has been around since Independence... They were there during the period when the whole environment in Senegal was destroyed.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ For the population, they saw only the Forest Service as owning the bush… [Today] people have woken up and they own it themselves.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>- President of the Environmental Commission, Ngañik </li></ul></ul></ul>
    15. 15. <ul><li>Healthy landscapes are forested landscapes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ This was a desert… like Mauritania. There was nothing there, no trees… Now the rains have returned.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Abdoulaye Cissé </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Identify environmental villains. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Link poverty and environmental destruction. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Orientations towards protecting the environment are accompanied by new expectations for local control. </li></ul>How have Environmental Subjectivities changed?
    16. 16. What drives Environmental Subjectivities? <ul><li>Social identities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Leaders – Regulatory activity often revolves around a particularly active individual who has internalized the project of protection. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Discourse </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New environmental orientations are based in prevailing narratives of environmental destruction. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In what ways do locals rework these discourse? </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Acknowledgements <ul><li>Funding </li></ul><ul><li>Fulbright-IIE Student Scholarship </li></ul><ul><li>Research Partners </li></ul><ul><li>IED Afrique, Dakar, Senegal </li></ul><ul><li>PERACOD, Kaolack, Senegal </li></ul><ul><li>Jesse Ribot, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign </li></ul><ul><li>Papa Faye, ISM, Dakar, Senegal </li></ul><ul><li>Residents of Ngañik and other research sites, Senegal </li></ul>
    18. 18. Bibliography <ul><li>Agrawal, A. 2005. Environmentality: Technologies of government and the making of subjects. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Bandiaky, S. 2008. Gender Inequality in Malidino Biodiversity Community-based Reserve, Senegal: Political Parties and the ‘Village Approach.’ Conservation and Society 6(1):62-73. </li></ul><ul><li>Chhatre, A. 2008. Political articulation and accountability in decentralisation: Theory and evidence from India. Conservation and Society 6(1):12-23. </li></ul><ul><li>Groupe de Travail Gouvernance des Ressources Naturelles. 2005. Les impacts socio-économiques de la gestion décentralisée des ressources naturelles: La contribution des conventions locales à la lutte contre la pauvreté. Eschborn: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit. </li></ul><ul><li>Faye, P. 2006. Décentralisation, pluralisme institutionnel et démocratie locale : Étude de cas de la gestion du massif forestier Missirah/Kothiary (région de Tambacounda, Sénégal). Market Access & Institutional Choice Working Paper 20. Washington, DC: WRI. </li></ul><ul><li>Ribot, J.C. 2007. Institutional choice and recognition in the consolidation of local democracy. Development 50(1):43-49. </li></ul>
    19. 19. Thank you!