This thesis analyses the relationships between i) planned development interventions which took place in the Casamance over the last 100 years; ii) the advent and co-existence of different forms of endogenous responses to state interventions, and iii) the conflictive outcomes which emanated from the interplay of i) and ii). The ultimate goal is to provide a critical and situated understanding of the ‘Casamance crises’.
The thesis is anchored on and actor oriented conceptual framework. This approach positions the agency of different categories of actors and their ability to engage, accommodate, resist and co-determine the outcome of the development processes. The processes observed in the Casamance are interpreted as ‘a structural feature of agrarian development’, as “arenas where different actors interact, compete and cooperate, based on their own objectives’ (Long, 2001). In light of this framework, the peasantry is seen to be able to strive for autonomy by relying on own resources to survive in an increasingly globalising economy. However, their potentials can be blocked by unfavourable socio- economic conditions, such as those that deprive them the fruits of their labour, thus leading to an agrarian crisis as defined by Van der Ploeg (2008). From this angle, the thesis explores the extent to which the long-term configurations of relationships between external interventions and local responses have accelerated the disarticulation of the traditional production systems, and contributed to compromising the livelihood position and the emancipation trajectories of youth and women within the traditional domestic units in the Casamance.
The methodology adopted described in chapter 2, thus focussed on unpacking interplay and mutual determination between ‘internal’ and ‘external’ factors and relationships. This entailed a historical contextualization of processes of planned state interventions and distancing from development activities in the Casamance over a long period of time. This is followed by a detailed analysis of the various consequent responses shown by different segments of the Casamance society at different historical junctures, in pursuit of a differentiated set of emancipatory trajectories. Data collection involved multiple times and locations, combining field observations, data collected through interviews and surveys and consulting research reports.
Chapter 3 reviews the key physical, socioeconomic and political features of the Casamance region, from the colonial era until the present day’s developments which culminated in the protracted conflict opposing the Government of Senegal and the Mouvement des Forces Democratiques de la Casamance (MFDC). The land reform programmes initiated during the colonial era brought a number of provisions which made it easier for the Colonial government to control local people’s holdings. When Senegal became independent in 1960, the colonial concept of land tenure also played an important role in the “Loi sur le Domaine National”, considered as a means of achieving both economic and social objectives. In addition, the country maintained a policy of specialisation on groundnut and the development of an import- substitution industry funded by foreign donors. During the 1980-2000s, changes in government policy and the drought contributed to significant changes in the production systems. These changes triggered multifaceted responses: collaboration, resistance, rejection as well as conflict- the most dramatic of which was the launch of an armed campaign for the independence of the Casamance region during the 1980s.
Chapter 4 analyses the state-administered agricultural programmes and the consequent local people’s responses which took place in the Casamance between the 1960s and the 1980s. These typically revolved around land and agrarian reform programmes supplying agricultural equipment and technology, rural development projects and farming systems research. They enabled significant sections of rural people to access animal traction equipment and complementary inputs through agricultural credit. Later during the 1980s, the state withdrew form direct involvement in production and marketing activities as part of the structural adjustment programme. This chapter also showed that State hegemony and locally driven development dynamics are related both historically and conceptually: During the first phase of State hegemony, a number of rural institutions were controlled and managed by the State. During the 1970s and 1980s when the state withdrew, an autonomous farmer movement (FONGS) emerged outside the official state extension and structuring system- defining a new farmer-centered political and economic agenda.
Chapter 5 provides an in-depth analysis of the two types of responses that the Casamance peasantry brought to planned development interventions. First, the incentives provided through State policies for groundnuts production analysed in chapter 4 led to a widespread adoption of labour-saving and scale-enlarging technologies, which facilitated a significant increase in the male-dominated production of cash crops- groundnuts especially- as a source for rural livelihoods in the region. This however happened at the expense of food crops whose production was dominated by women and youth. It also accelerated the gradual disconnections between crop production, livestock management at the household and village levels. Moreover, subsequent changes in State policies, which was no longer providing favourable conditions for entrepreneurial farming, combined with the negative consequences of a long drought, led to devastating impacts on local production systems. This situation triggered a significant out-migration of the Casamance youth to the country’s capital city and other metropolitan areas, in search of alternative employment and livelihood opportunities.
With the evolution of time, the Casamance farmers developed a second set of responses. As discussed in chapters 5 and 6, the rural youth and women explored new livelihood and emancipation opportunities- such as producing rice for family consumption and diversifying production activities to include seasonal cultivation of fruits and vegetables for sale. Many young people also embarked on seasonal out-migration to enable them to accumulate the resources necessary to start their own households.
Chapters 6 further analyzes the development and growth of FOs, and how they managed to use funding from donors to develop new technical and organisational capabilities to support the activities of the Casamance family farms. They succeeded in fulfilling the technical and advisory roles previously provided by state institutions, and facilitated rural people’s access to agricultural finance. They were also able to integrate and play a bigger role in the activities of their local government-with a more emboldened voice and power to influence change. The Chapter also shows the development of other forms of private rural business development actors from the Casamance and other regions of Senegal- mainly premised on the participation of smallholder farmers in the agricultural value chain.
Chapter 7 analyses the Casamance crisis as a major conflict of articulation between a region and the rest of country; epitomising a violent contestation of a dominant state- driven modernisation scenario which does not conform to the emancipation trajectories of the educated youth, aspiring to the benefits of sovereignty. In this respect the conflict conforms to the definitions of a governance and agrarian crisis as articulated in this thesis. However while significant, the actions of the MFDC do not represent the sole and unique responses of the Casamance rural youth to the prevailing crisis. The agrarian interpretation of the conflict adopted in this thesis enable us to illustrate other types of development dynamics associated with the interplay between planned interventions and local people responses. Building on the lessons learned in conducting this study, it appears that finding practical answers to the question of local people’s access to decent resources and living conditions could be a prerequisite to overcoming the current political and agrarian crisis prevailing in the Casamance.
The concluding chapter 8 explores the links between ‘peace’, ‘autonomy’ and ‘development’ in the Casamance. I examine the extent to which more autonomy, associated with peasant-centred development, can lead to ‘peace’ and development in the southern region of Senegal. It links the successful resolution of the Casamance crisis to the advent of a governance revolution, which permits a re-alignment of the resources, activities and personal agendas of the different family members around a shared goal for transformation and progress. Building on the lessons learned as part of this study, the approaches considered here are based on new principles of the valorisation of local resources, as well as the redefinition of the format and content of relationships with other development actors. This approach requires the revision of the relationships between local actors and the wider set of actors; it also implies a reconciliation of diverse strategies deployed by the different protagonists over different geographic boundaries.
These principles inform the final recommendations of this study which aim at creating the necessary conditions for the advent of lasting peace linked to the capacity of the local people to rebuild a more viable livelihood for the inhabitants of the Casamance region.