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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Position and role of peasant communities in the struggle against the desertification process in the Sahel
Author:Labatut, Jean-Michel
Periodical:Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law
Geographic term:Sahel
Abstract:Theories explaining the desertification process in the Sahel have swung between natural ecological development and the action of humankind. The present paper focuses primarily on the position to be given to peasant practices in analyses of desertification and the formulation of strategies to combat it. Until very recently, the dominant research paradigm was that of the social fact. Today, a new paradigm, that of the social definition, is gaining ground. Unlike the former, this paradigm gives the key role to social protagonists. It leads researchers to prefer participation by the peasants at various levels in formulating and implementing projects. It also has the effect of breaking the academic framework of research geared toward pure knowledge. This has made it possible to find many examples of actions taken by peasants themselves to combat desertification and to recognize the organizational capacity of the communities in the Sahel. The author considers the nature and position of peasants' knowledge and its status in relation to scientific knowledge, the peasants' real place in the process of research and action, and the consequences for research and development. He advocates genuine participatory research as the key to any workable form of struggle against desertification in the Sahel, whereby the traditional knowledge of the peasant needs to be complemented by the efforts of the researcher and the State. Bibliogr.