Refugees and environmental change in West Africa: the role of institutions

  • Black R
  • Sessay M
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This paper examines the relationship between forced migration and environmental change in West Africa, through an analysis of the changing institutional context through which resource use and management decisions are made. The paper draws on the work of Leach and Mearns (1991), who have highlighted how institutions shape the ways in which different groups of people gain access to and control over resources, and in doing so, affect environmental outcomes. This approach is used to illuminate two apparently paradoxical case studies of refugee influxes in Senegal and the Republic of Guinea, where despite significant increases in the population of host areas, degradation of natural resources has remained limited. It is argued that flexible local institutions have been able to adapt to the presence of refugees, providing regulated access to natural resources, and so reducing destructive behaviour.

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  • Richard Black

  • Mohamed F. Sessay

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