Alliances, Cooperation and Conflicts Between Ecostate-Men and Fishermen In The Pendjari River Area, Northwest Of Benin

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 1:30 PM
Room: F205
Oral Presentation
Papa SOW , Department of Political and Cultural Change, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
Stephen ADAAWEN , Department of Political and Cultural Change, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

Northern Benin (Dassari area) is crossed from either side by numerous little rivers and catchments that dry up very quickly because of the pronounced shoreline deforestation among other things. The area is severely threatened by environmental strains. The causes are multifaceted: lack of rain (only 70 to 110 rainy days on average from May to October), technical and human resource to manage adequately the water, land degradation. Migrations of African fishermen from neighbouring countries (Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Ghana) towards the protected Pendjari River in the Dassari area remain locally important drivers for environmental changes into new spaces configurations. This paper will open with a brief description of methodologies and methods used to gather information and findings. To this end, it will compile a series of statistical data combining qualitative methods and based on original research. Then, the main empirical idea of the paper will be centred in selected main villages of the studied area located near the river and will look at adaptive capacity used by the postcolonial Beninese ecostate (a kind of governance for sustainability) and the prevalent environmental governance regime. The River, located in a protected forest area, physically and politically imagined to be more environmentally secure, is ironically creating new demographic dynamics and trends (migration of fishermen, demands of new natural resources, etc.) that are not often reducing vulnerability and risk. How little scope forest officials have to take measures that might actually help to protect the local environment, compared to the options that fishermen might have, to take preventive measures (in some way) to protect the area, if necessary. Afterwards, the paper will analyse the mobility of those African fishermen along the Pendjari River and will focus on the fact that the ironic environmental "risks" that the politically correct environmental "conservation" efforts themselves may create.