Village Management Committees in Malidino Community Reserve, Senegal: From Biodiversity Conservation to Social Division

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"This paper examines the role of external agencies in the institutional empowerment of local actors engaged in natural resource management in the Malidino Biodiversity Community Reserve in Senegal. The Community is a project initiated by the World Bank and the Senegalese government in 2002. The declared goal of the project is transferring power to Local Collectivities for the management of natural resources such as land, forests, non-timber forest products, and community-based reserves. In order to explore whether genuine decentralization of power over resource management has indeed occurred or not, the paper examines the structures of the village management committees that the World Bank and the Senegalese government created for resource use and management of the Malidino reserve. Because the chairs of these committees are traditional authorities such as village chiefs, spiritual guides, Imams, or wealthy men, the paper argues that the choice and recognition of these actors as key decision-makers over resource management, is in fact inconsistent with democratic decentralization objectives. The main research questions for the present study include: Why do the Senegalese government and the World Bank put in place village management committees instead of working with Local Collectivities? What are the implications of the choice and recognition of these village management committees for democracy and equitable development of the commons? The study is based on extensive ethnographic research in the Biodiversity Community, which involved participant observation, interviews, and focus group discussions. "
IASC, social organization, biodiversity, conservation