Endangering Development: Politics, Projects, and Environment in Burkina Faso

Endangering Development: Politics, Projects, and Environment in Burkina Faso

Endangering Development: Politics, Projects, and Environment in Burkina Faso

Endangering Development: Politics, Projects, and Environment in Burkina Faso

Synopsis

The politics of international intervention into rural areas is the subject of this insightful new study. Using concrete cases drawn from fieldwork in rural Burkina Faso, the author shows how nongovernmental organizations' activities with women's groups, natural resource management projects, decentralization policies, and rural democratization advocates must enter an arena of local struggle for resources and status. He maintains that activists often seriously contradict rural people's practices and understandings of particular issues and how they should be organized.

Excerpt

Products are often shaped according to an objective. Their contents and form are molded to serve some purpose or to fit in with a higher order rather than being the pure result of the creator's predispositions and capabilities. Yet, large texts are surely imprinted by the author's upbringing, education and experience. The choice of subject and approach is the result of a reflective process influenced by personal values and knowledge. Thus some notes on my intellectual background and interests will undoubtedly help the reader in understanding the direction of the subsequent pages.

My intellectual upbringing is informed by a concern for the improvement of people's living conditions, an education in public administration and an interest in social theory, in general, and in theories transgressing the borders between economic and sociology, in particular.

In a world with millions of people struggling for existence, the basic raison d'être for development studies is their potential for supporting processes that reduce human misery. Researchers should direct their attention toward the possibilities for reducing vulnerability, insecurity and poverty, and academic discussions need to be based on thorough insights into people's ideas, anxieties and lives.

Public administration is often somewhat distanced from people's daily worries and problems, and one could even argue that there are cases where it adds to them. Still, some form of state is necessary at all levels of society to coordinate, support, prohibit and initiate activities. In increasingly complex societies, these tasks are becoming more and more crucial, and the way they are accomplished affects profoundly the opportunities and restrictions that men and women confront.

During the last many years, the scientific community has witnessed several

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