Ni Paix Ni Guerre: The Political Economy of Low-Level Conflict in the Casamance

Working and discussion papers
February 2003
Martin Evans

The Casamance is the southern limb of Senegal and an area rich in agricultural and forest resources. Since 1982, it has witnessed a separatist rebellion by the Mouvement des forces démocratiques de la Casamance (MFDC). This case study focuses on the ‘war economy’ established during the period of serious conflict (since 1990), principally in Ziguinchor region, and based mainly on natural resources such as timber, tree crops and cannabis. Members of the MFDC guerrilla group, Senegalese forces and civilians, together with elements from neighbouring Guinea-Bissau and The Gambia, are implicated. However, the majority of Casamançais suffer because of exclusion from productive resources and regional economic crisis resulting from the conflict. The war economy may also be obstructing the current peace process, with vested interests profiting from ongoing, lowlevel conflict, at a time when donors and agencies are returning. This case study therefore aims to describe the war economy in terms of the actors and commodities involved; to characterise the role of force in its operation; to identify the problems that this environment poses for aid; and to make recommendations for agency practice.

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