Gray L C, 2002, "Environmental policy, land rights, and conflict: rethinking community natural resource management programs in Burkina Faso" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 20(2) 167 – 182
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Environmental policy, land rights, and conflict: rethinking community natural resource management programs in Burkina Faso
Leslie C Gray
Received 26 October 1998; in revised form 7 December 2000
Abstract. In this paper I will examine the effects of the implementation of the Gestion des Terroirs approach in several villages in the cotton-growing region of southwestern Burkina Faso, an area of both extensive immigration and fast-paced socioeconomic change. Efforts to restructure land-tenure relations have failed, despite the rhetoric of participatory development, because projects misunderstand the nature of changing land rights, agricultural practices, and village social relations. Failures of efforts to zone land have been exacerbated because land has become a major site of conflict. Population growth and agricultural growth have led to land shortages, intensified competition, and overt conflict. Efforts to restructure landholding by using participatory development methods have had unintended consequences as individuals and groups manipulate meanings and representations about rights to land and land-management strategies in order to lay claim to land. On the one hand some local farmers are attempting to expel migrant farmers from land by invoking notions of who is and who is not using environmentally sound management practices. Migrant farmers, on the other hand, are fearful of leaving land fallow because they fear that the project or their local hosts will take it away from them. Both of these outcomes have increased tension among ethnic and generational groups and fostered mistrust of the motivations of environmental projects. Instead of homogeneous cooperative entities, villages are often based on conflict and competition. Projects, therefore, should focus on conflict resolution and reconciliation when attempting to restructure how natural resources are allocated.
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