ChapterPDF Available

Breaks with the Past: Conflict, Displacement, Resettlement and the Evolution of Forest Socio-Ecologies in Sierra Leone

Authors:

Abstract

In contrast to media fixation on the physical violence of recent West African conflicts, scholars have emphasized the lasting effects of massive population displacements. In Sierra Leone, for example, roughly 2 million of a total 3.8 million people had to migrate internally and several hundred thousand more fled to neighboring countries. As many have noted, both the experiences of those who were displaced and later returned home, as well as the dramatic shifts in population geography caused by those who did not, have had considerable impacts on important social issues including ethnic relations, identity formation, (macro)economic patterns and medical services provision. What remain less well understood, however, are the effects of these disruptions and reconfigurations on rural livelihoods and, by extension, on the (re) production of human-environmental relationships across broad swathes of landscape. These are of critical importance to processes of postwar stabilization and reconstruction, since most of Africa's mainly agrarian populations rely almost entirely on the productivity of their immediate landscapes for subsistence and small-scale commercial production. Focusing on Sierra Leone, in this chapter we draw on extensive field data to describe how rural residents' responses to both the vagaries of intense and chaotic conflict as well as the unstable conditions of peacebuilding have produced a considerable transformation of people-forest relationships across the country.
ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com
© Copyrighted Material
© Copyrighted Material
Chapter 9
Breaks with the Past: Conict, Displacement,
Resettlement and the Evolution of Forest
Socio-Ecologies in Sierra Leone1
Paul Munro and Greg van der Horst
Abstract
In contrast to media xation on the physical violence of recent West African conicts, scholars have
emphasized the lasting effects of massive population displacements. In Sierra Leone, for example, roughly
2 million of a total 3.8 million people had to migrate internally and several hundred thousand more ed
to neighboring countries. As many have noted, both the experiences of those who were displaced and
later returned home, as well as the dramatic shifts in population geography caused by those who did not,
have had considerable impacts on important social issues including ethnic relations, identity formation,
(macro)economic patterns and medical services provision. What remain less well understood, however,
are the effects of these disruptions and recongurations on rural livelihoods and, by extension, on the (re)
production of human-environmental relationships across broad swathes of landscape. These are of critical
importance to processes of post-war stabilization and reconstruction, since most of Africa’s mainly agrarian
populations rely almost entirely on the productivity of their immediate landscapes for subsistence and
small-scale commercial production. Focusing on Sierra Leone, in this chapter we draw on extensive eld
data to describe how rural residents’ responses to both the vagaries of intense and chaotic conict as well
as the unstable conditions of peacebuilding have produced a considerable transformation of people-forest
relationships across the country.
Introduction
In contrast to media xation on the immediate brutalities of the Mano River War(s)2 in Sierra Leone
(1991–2001) and Liberia (1989–1996; 1999–2003), a key emphasis in scholarly work has been the equally
important and in many ways more lasting disruptions produced by war-induced displacement of more than
half of the two national populations (Chimni 2002; Crisp 2000). In Sierra Leone, for example, an estimated
2 million of its then 3.8 million people were forced to migrate internally and several hundred thousand more
ed to neighboring Guinea and Liberia (Norwegian Refugee Council 2002). While many people endured such
exile for several years, many more abandoned their old lives, resettling themselves in new parts of the country
(Binns and Maconachie 2005; Maconachie, Binns, Tengbe and Johnson 2006). As a number of scholars have
noted, both the experiences of those who were displaced and later returned, as well as the dramatic shifts
in population geography caused by those who did not, have had considerable effects on a wide range of
important issues. A range of studies have illuminated the effects of these dynamics on various aspects of
1 Funding for this research was provided by the European Union and the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation
(FAO) through the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) support program, as well as the Promoting
Agriculture, Governance and the Environment (PAGE) program sponsored by USAID, and the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada.
2 This term is used by Danny Hoffman (2011) to illustrate the close connections between the broader political
economies of the individual Liberian and Sierra Leone civil wars.
© 2015
From John Idriss Lahai and Tanya Lyons (eds), African Frontiers: Insurgency, Governance and
Peacebuilding in Postcolonial States, published by Ashgate Publishing.
See: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781472460080
ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com
© Copyrighted Material
© Copyrighted Material
African Frontiers
120
national life, such as social relations and identity formation, (macro)economic patterns and medical services
provision among others (Binns and Maconachie 2005; Grant 2005; Maconachie et al. 2006; Medeiros 2007).
Much less well understood, however, are the effects these experiences and population ows have had
on how rural people have gotten back to the business of making a living and, by extension, the socio-
political and material characteristics of human-environmental relationships across the majority of Sierra
Leone and Liberia’s landscapes (Maconachie et al. 2006). In the post-war context such concerns have been
largely obscured from view by more dramatic immediate concerns such as disease control, scal collapse
and electoral violence. Nonetheless, they have been and remain critically important as the two countries
move forward with their self-reconstruction since the majority agrarian populations rely almost entirely on
immediate forest and savanna environs for subsistence and small-scale commercial livelihood production.
During the conicts and their aftermath, rural residents (displaced or otherwise) have had to formulate new
livelihood strategies not only in new environments, but also in considerably changed social and economic
contexts (Maconachie et al. 2006).
Focusing on the Sierra Leonean case, in this chapter we draw on extensive eld data to describe how
rural residents’ responses to the vagaries of chaotic conict and the unstable conditions of peacebuilding have
produced a considerable transformation of people-forest relationships across the country. We argue that the
civil war and its fallout, by producing a range of novel necessities, experiences and opportunities, created
the political and economic space for new forest livelihood activities to be established and expanded. We
contextualize this socio-ecological dynamic in the broader political economy of the colonial and postcolonial
Sierra Leone nation state, illustrating how this transformation has challenged notions of the state’s centralized
hegemony in forest governance, that have been prevalent since the colonial era.
Following this introduction, the remainder of this chapter is divided into four sections. In the next section
we provide a brief overview of Sierra Leone’s political and economic history demonstrating how formal
forestry governance in Sierra Leone was (and continues to be) couched in a colonialist mindset focused
on “rationalized” large-scale timber exploitation. Building on this analysis, the third section moves on to
describe the Sierra Leonean civil war (1991–2001) and its aftermath, explaining how it produced new socio-
political spaces in which novel forms of human-forest relations could emerge. In the fourth section we analyze
current dynamics in the evolution of Sierra Leone’s new forest socio-ecologies at the grass-roots level and the
tensions between these and the centralizing ambitions of the Forestry Division. Finally, in the fth section we
offer a summary and concluding thoughts.
Origins of the “Rationalizing” Urge: Colonialism and the Birth of Formal Forestry in Sierra Leone
The modern state of Sierra Leone owes its earliest existence to a late-eighteenth-century experimental attempt,
partly initiated by the British Government, to provide a form of redress to former slaves from England,
Eastern Canada and the Caribbean (Braidwood 1994) by “repatriating” them to a small Colony founded in the
Freetown Peninsula. While for some time Imperial ambitions were limited to this small holding, during the
1890s “scramble for Africa” the British annexed a deep and broad swathe of adjoining territory, expanding
colonial hegemony to include the “Protectorate”—a domain largely matching the current borders of the
country. As the colonial adventure was intended to be protable (or at least self-supporting) (Kaindaneh
1993; Meredith 1986), however, the motive for this act was less to acquire territory per se than to establish
control over (and increase) the extraction of valuable commodities for the benet of the imperial core (Munro
and Hiemstra-van der Horst 2011). The formalization and institutionalization of natural resource exploitation
for export was therefore a key focus of the Colonial Government during the early 1900s, pursued through the
establishment of managing bureaucracies (Akiwumi 2006a, 2006b; Munro and Hiemstra-van der Horst 2011),
such as the Sierra Leonean Forestry Department founded in 1911.
At root, the organization and operations of the Forestry Department were premised on two key systems
of ideas. The rst was an overtly racist and thorough-going distrust of native environmental competence,
which itself was deeply linked to a systematic misreading of the Sierra Leonean landscape through the lenses
of pseudo-scientic ecological notions such as “succession,” “equilibrium” and (deforestation-induced)
desiccation. In essence, the colonial perspective held that the agricultural practices of the indigenous population
Copyright material: You are not permitted to transmit this file in any format or media;
it may not be resold or reused without prior agreement with Ashgate Publishing and
may not be placed on any publicly accessible or commercial servers.
ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com
© Copyrighted Material
© Copyrighted Material
Breaks with the Past 121
had destroyed (and continued to destroy) the tropical moist forests which, it was believed, had once covered the
majority of the country (Fairhead and Leach 1998, 2000; Munro and van der Horst forthcoming). The second
was a particular ideal of professionalized forest management based largely on a German cameralist model of
forestry practice that had been developed during the 1800s. This approach was predicated on the simplication
and rationalization of arboreal resources for easy and efcient economic exploitation by separating forests from
people, altering their ecologies to enhance production of higher-priced species, and increasing harvesting rates
with mechanized industrial equipment (Munro 2015). In simple terms, the objective was to manufacture forests
that were easier to count, manipulate, measure, assess and hence to exploit for maximum yield and prots
(Neumann 2005). Indeed, the very establishment of forestry departments in Sierra Leone and the rest of Africa at
the start of the twentieth century was itself considerably a product of a broadly-based belief that the continent’s
forests were in immediate danger of destruction by the local population and required urgent intervention by
rational, scientic—and of course European—professionals. The appropriation of control was thus justied
within the moral-economic framework of colonization (Endeld and Nash 2002) and the sequestration of
resource-rich areas was easily framed as a benecent gesture protecting ignorant locals from themselves.
Despite its urgent initial pursuit and the “civilizing” rhetoric under which it paraded, however, the
colonization process in Sierra Leone that began with the Scramble for Africa in the 1890s proved neither quick
nor socio-politically motivated but rather a protracted attempt to subsume the territory, its resources and its
peoples under the hegemony of imperial capitalism. As Hoogvelt and Tinker argue, colonial-era exploitation
was expressly designed to feed capitalist development in the imperial homeland, not to develop capitalist
economies in the colonial periphery, and was:
[n]ot, therefore, just exploitative, but super exploitative. It was rapacious rather than reproductive, bent on
quick returns rather than long-term exchange. It was destructive of the soil and resources, yet failing to provide
alternative forms of livelihood. It was content to work in makeshift technological and capitalist enclaves,
allowing itself to be supported by the surrounding social formation, rather than attempting to change or
improve it. (Hoogvelt and Tinker 1978: 73)
On the whole, then, the colonial period was characterized by—or indeed predicated on—nearly wholesale
exploitation of the colonial hinterland for maximum protability at the least possible cost by a system in
which Sierra Leoneans (like many other peoples) were effectively made to pay for their own colonization.
Despite the economic and strategic importance of the Sierra Leonean territory, however, the British
authorities never achieved truly systematic control over the country, partly due to the relatively short period of
formal colonization (1896 to 1961) and the distraction of the First World War which drew Imperial attention
and investment largely elsewhere. In this context the colonial Forestry Department struggled, particularly
since its potential protability was a much longer-term and less lucrative prospect than the opportunities for
lling imperial coffers offered by the agricultural and mining sectors.
Between 1921 and 1941, for example, investment in agriculture was increased by 400 percent while
expenditure on forestry remained stagnant (Blood 1941) with the result that during this period Sierra Leone
was heavily reliant on imported timber to meet domestic needs. Importantly, the Second World War offered a
strategic opportunity for the Department which secured for itself four large-scale sawmills with the rationale
of contributing supplies to meet the timber demand of the war effort (Cline-Cole 1993; Munro and Hiemstra-
van der Horst 2011). When the conict ended the Department retained the mills and attempted to transform
itself from a peripheral bureaucracy draining the colonial treasury into the progenitor of an efcient industry
producing enough timber for domestic needs. As one observer exclaimed at the time: “[s]awmilling, which
was an outcome of wartime necessity ha[d] come to stay” (Pelly 1952: 10).
These notable developments notwithstanding, at independence in 1961 the institutionalization of formal
industrial forestry was still very much an unnished project. British investment had been haphazard and
self-serving and offered little to the rural majority of Sierra Leoneans still dependent on direct access to land
to meet the bulk of their daily needs. Still, the role of natural resources in the socio-economic development
of the country had been profoundly altered (Colson 1971) and the lives of rural Sierra Leoneans had on
the whole become more linked and vulnerable to the vagaries of volatile national and global markets. As
a consequence, the independent government that took over Sierra Leone did not inherit a stable polity, but
© 2015
From John Idriss Lahai and Tanya Lyons (eds), African Frontiers: Insurgency, Governance and
Peacebuilding in Postcolonial States, published by Ashgate Publishing.
See: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781472460080
ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com
© Copyrighted Material
© Copyrighted Material
African Frontiers
122
instead a fragmented one that was in many ways coming apart at the seams (Phillips 1989). Despite its efforts
to the contrary, the British Administration in Freetown had always been reliant on nancial support from the
colonial ofce in London, and the governance structure inherited at liberation was nancially unsustainable
(Harris 2014). Nevertheless, in line with the modernization discourse of the time, industrialization remained
a principal concern for the postcolonial Sierra Leonean Government, as was the pride associated with the
idea of new nationhood, which mandated spending on prestige projects to impress visiting foreign ofcials
and prospective investors (Siddle and Swindell 1990). As a result, promoting the development of a more
formalized and technologically sophisticated forestry sector remained an important focus in the postcolonial
era. This effort was led in both policy and practice by the state itself which directly conducted the majority
of large-scale logging operations through the centrally-owned Forest Industries Corporation (FIC). By 1968
the FIC had become one of the most prominent industrial actors in the country (outside of the mining sector)
employing around 1,000 people (Sierra Leone Trade Journal 1968).
Just as during the late colonial period, however, the promising initial successes of the nascent industrialized
forestry sector in Sierra Leone were again relatively short lived, in this case due to broad-based political-
economic decline. Already in the 1960s there were problems of political insecurity—notably marked by three
coups d’état—as the country attempted to adjust to democratic governance. Although stability was increased
in the 1970s, it came in the form of an authoritarian regime headed by Siaka Probyn Stevens whose pursuit of
a “state hegemonic project” (Zack-Williams 1999: 125) gathered pace with the reconstitution of the country
as a single party democracy in 1978 (Abraham 1993). Determined to consolidate and maintain his power,
Stevens targeted any and all forms of opposition using a combination of cunning manipulation, intimidation
and violence. At the same time, he constructed a “shadow state” (Reno 1995), building a neopatrimonial
network of personalized support paid for with wealth looted from Sierra Leone’s rich mineral extraction
industry (Bøås 2001; Richards 1996).
The implications of these developments for the forestry sector were signicant, changing the nature of
both the formal timber production industry and the Department charged with its oversight in ways that remain
salient in the present day. On one hand, the autonomy and capacity of the Department itself were reduced
quite dramatically by the patterns of Stevens’ rule and his increasing focus on mineral—and particularly
diamond—wealth. In order to consolidate his grip on power, Stevens increasingly centralized the political and
economic functions of the state in the capital city of Freetown, using the state and its resources to distribute
patronage to his cronies while the rest of the country was neglected (Riddell 1985, 2005). Forestry was
no exception, and the authority of the Department in this period became highly concentrated in the Chief
Conservator of Forests, a gure tied by personalized neopatrimonial connections to the president, ensuring
“that the Forestry [Department] literally spoke with a ‘single voice’ in policy formulation” (Grainger and
Konteh 2007: 54). At the same time, however, the Department’s relevance waned as mineral resources,
especially, diamonds, proved to be much more congenial to realizing prots with little state investment
(Forde 2011).
An intriguing aspect of the forestry sector’s decline during this period is its paradoxical relationship
with the central state which both promoted it and allowed it to sink into ruin. In a number of ways—and
particularly earlier on—Stevens’ government exhibited considerable enthusiasm for commercial forestry. In
1975, for example it succeeded in negotiating establishment of the Sierra Leone Timber Industries (SILETI),
a timber company co-owned by the state and operated by an Italian enterprise, set up to exploit forests in
the south-east of the country. The company was given a 25 year logging concession, however, only just
eight years later the regime reversed its position and “things fell apart.” The Government accused SILETI of
engaging in “the unauthorised felling of trees by using forged stamps to mark trees, … smuggl[ing] logs out
of [the country] … via neighbouring Liberia and paying no royalties to the government even on logs legally
felled” (Tuboku-Metzger 1983: 241). SILETI’s concession (due to expire in 2000) was cancelled in 1983 and
the company was expelled from the country. Moreover, the government-owned FIC fared little better during
the same period. Despite Stevens’ early emphasis on increasing exports, by the late-1970s the Corporation
was in dire nancial straits. In order to revive it, in 1978, the government negotiated with the UK government
for a Le 3 million loan (around US$2.8 million) to purchase logging trucks and a new sawmill production line.
As well, that same year the West German government was prevailed upon to provide the FIC with 30 million
DM (around US$14.2 million) for the construction of a new timber complex (Ofce of the President, 1980;
Copyright material: You are not permitted to transmit this file in any format or media;
it may not be resold or reused without prior agreement with Ashgate Publishing and
may not be placed on any publicly accessible or commercial servers.
ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com
© Copyrighted Material
© Copyrighted Material
Breaks with the Past 123
Tuboku-Metzger 1983). Despite these interventions, however, due to subsequent neglect the FIC fell quickly
back into a state of decay and logging operations came to a halt in 1989 largely due to the inoperability of its
sawmill which had fallen into disrepair. Overall, with the demise of SILETI and FIC, by the early 1990s only
a few small-scale logging operations mainly run by wealthy Lebanese families were still operational in the
country (Hartley 1992; Leach 1990, 1994).
Ruptures and Recongurations: Civil War, Displacement and Political-Ecological Shifts
The 1980s were ultimately the beginning of the end for the Siaka Stevens’ patrimonial government, and
marked the beginning of a slide into chaotic conict that would prove transformative for the country. In 1985
Stevens, citing “fatigue,” stepped down as president installing the erstwhile head of the army, Brigadier Joseph
Saidu Momoh, as his successor (Alie 1990; Davies 2000; Zack-Williams 1999). Momoh however, inherited
a situation of increasing economic and political disintegration (Kpundeh 1994; Luke and Riley 1989) which,
lacking the charisma and political nous of his predecessor, he failed to contain and by the early 1990s the
country was ripe for conict (Zack-Williams 1999). The national debt rose at a pace still more dramatic
than that of the previous decade while corruption became truly pervasive, spreading throughout the furthest
reaches of the state apparatus (Keen 2005). In this context the political and economic disenfranchisement
of the country’s populace—especially rural youth—during the 1970s and 1980s had created widespread
frustration and anger (Abdullah 1998; Kandeh 1999). In 1991 hostilities spilled across the eastern border
from neighboring Liberia creating the necessary catalyst for conict and alluvial diamond elds provided the
necessary resources to nance its perpetuation.
The war itself (1991–2001) was a complex affair involving a variety of combatants including sobels
(soldiers colluding with and/or sometimes posing as rebels in strategic areas), foreign mercenaries, village
level militias, West African peacekeeping forces and—during its later stages—British troops (Abdullah 2004;
Gberie 2005; Zack-Williams 1997). More importantly, however, it was also intensely disruptive and violent.
Over the course of its 10 year duration more than 50,000 people were killed, many more were maimed, raped
or otherwise violated and over half of the population was displaced in a torrent of violence that left no Sierra
Leonean unaffected (Hoffman 2011; Keen 2005; Richards 1996). Importantly, the rebel/sobel onslaught also
caused major destruction to the governance regime, shattering vestigial illusions of central state control over
the country—not least the forests of the rural hinterland, many of which provided cover for rebel bases and
movements (Richards 1996, 2005). The Forestry Department, already in decline for the previous two decades,
saw its activities nearly completely halted: any notions of reviving the FIC were thoroughly quashed and
during the latter part of the 1990s its staff could hardly even conduct eld trips to areas outside of Freetown.
Moreover, at times the capital itself was not safe from the ravages of the conict and during its occupation by
the rebels in 1999, Prince Palmer, then Head of the Forestry Department, was killed (Munro 2015). Largely
abandoned by the state and left to fend for themselves, rural residents in many areas across the country
took matters into their own hands, building networks of cooperation for provisioning and defense famously
exemplied by the rise of the Kamajors and other ethnic militias that emerged to (quite successfully) challenge
the Revolutionary United Front (Rebel) menace (Hoffman 2007, 2011; Zack-Williams 1997). Sierra Leone’s
forest was often allegorized as an actor within these conicts. As Paul Richards notes, the rebels presented
themselves as “bush revolutionaries” revolting against an urban (patrimonial) elite and many protagonists
of the war viewed it as a crisis in which the “bush” came to “town” (phrased in Krio: lepet dcn kam na
tcn—the leopard has entered the city) (Richards 1996). Equally, the civil militias such as the kamajors who
were considered to have had power over bush paths, as well as the secrets and medicine (hale) of the forest
in their societies. Through this unique access to the resources of the forests (physically and symbolically) the
kamajors could mobilize power outside the usual channels to develop a village-level defense (Hoffman 2011).
Historically, the kamajors protected their villages from the various animal, human, and extra-human forces
of the forest (bush devils, wild animals) (Hoffman 2007); and, to an extent, protecting villages against bush
revolutionaries was seen as an extension of this earlier role.
At the same time as the ever tenuous authority of the state was falling to pieces, the relationship between
the Freetown urban core and the marginalized rural periphery was also being considerably disrupted. In this a
© 2015
From John Idriss Lahai and Tanya Lyons (eds), African Frontiers: Insurgency, Governance and
Peacebuilding in Postcolonial States, published by Ashgate Publishing.
See: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781472460080
ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com
© Copyrighted Material
© Copyrighted Material
African Frontiers
124
key factor was the massive inux of rural residents that produced acute changes in Freetown’s structure and
population (Munro 2009). Until 1997, Freetown was relatively insulated from the excesses of the conict and
was generally seen as a haven of safety from rebel atrocities. As a result, large numbers of provincial people
driven from their homes by the war relocated to the capital and its surroundings, increasing the number of its
residents as much as threefold (Abdullah 2002; Boadi, Kuitunen, Raheem and Hanninen 2005). This major
shift in population geography was to prove critically transformative for the forestry sector, creating foundations
for new markets, commodity chain networks and livelihoods for the generally cash-poor rural majority. For
one thing—and particularly in the later context of post-war recovery and reconstruction—the arrival of so
many new migrants created a major upsurge in demand for materials to supply housing construction and
household energy needs creating the basis for effectively new industries. As well, they also brought with them
the social means by which to organize these novel economies: close ties to their villages of origin provided
the basis for the establishment of strategic trade networks linking rural producers of lumber, rewood and
charcoal to urban markets where demand was rising rapidly. The establishment of refugee and internally
displaced peoples (IDP) camps augmented these patterns. Located both on the outskirts of Freetown and in
the east of the country, the camps essentially became new towns and many functioned for over a decade while
others evolved into permanent settlements. Growing rapidly, they became key sites of economic activity and
trade in rewood became an important micro-industry (Leach 1992; Sargent 1993) while sales of building
poles received a considerable boost from the demand for refugee shelters (Alieu 2001; Munro and van der
Horst 2012a).
Beneath the more obvious patterns of state disintegration and the relatively simple dynamics of supply
and demand, however, deeper processes were also at work that caused fundamental shifts in the relationship
between rural Sierra Leoneans and the forest and savanna landscapes that most call home. In essence, through
the processes of displacement and resettlement, the civil war and its aftermath exposed large numbers of rural
people to new technologies and ways of thinking about forest-based products and livelihood strategies. Certainly
the rapid post-war growth in urban material needs provided a vibrant market for rural goods encouraging a
rapid increase in their production. Nonetheless, it was largely the conict itself and the strategies of state and
donor agencies for immediate post-war rehabilitation efforts which produced technological and ontological
shifts transforming forests from sources of micro-scale subsistence into resources for commercially-oriented
production. The now national-scale commercialization of rewood and building poles, for example, was
actually largely a product of experiences in the IDP camps where many displaced rural residents began for
the rst time to think of these normally subsistence products as tradeable commodities (Munro and van der
Horst 2012a, 2012b).
Still more illustrative, however, is the dramatic rise in charcoal production and trade which emerged
during the conict and has since grown rapidly into a notable industry. Until the mid-1990s, charcoal was a
largely peripheral and uncommoditized product—consumed mainly by rural blacksmiths, and of marginal
importance relative to rewood which was used as a household fuel—and a material which few Sierra
Leoneans knew how to produce.3 During the civil war, however, a variety of population movements resulted
in technological transfers that gave birth to a new commercial subsector that ultimately revolutionized urban
household energy markets across the country. In the context of relocation to IDP camps near Freetown,
displacement over the borders to Liberia and Guinea and interaction with Liberian refugees (and in one case
Liberian prisoners of war) based in different camps across Sierra Leone, a wide range of people learned both
the techniques of charcoal making and its potential protability from skilled artisanal producers in these
areas. Following the end of the war, a great many brought this new knowledge back during resettlement to
start production in their home villages. As well, since the war, Guinean traders and semi-nomadic charcoal
making teams have stayed in or near many Sierra Leonean villages in the border regions, teaching the trade
to a considerable number of people particularly in the north of the country. In the post-war context the
results of this revolution have been nothing short of dramatic. Village-level production of charcoal for urban
markets has become widespread across many areas of the country, particularly in areas within reach of major
transportation arteries. Illustrating the trade’s socio-economic importance, residents of charcoal producing
3 The charcoal used by blacksmiths differs from cooking charcoal. They are made through different processes, with
the blacksmith charcoal producing smaller charcoal pieces that produce a more intense heat.
Copyright material: You are not permitted to transmit this file in any format or media;
it may not be resold or reused without prior agreement with Ashgate Publishing and
may not be placed on any publicly accessible or commercial servers.
ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com
© Copyrighted Material
© Copyrighted Material
Breaks with the Past 125
villages emphasized in interviews that through it, they had acquired economic freedom, earning enough to
marry and set up their own households as well as to buy costly but important items such as motorcycles and
other much-desired goods. Indeed, one charcoal trading village encountered during eld research was made
up entirely of ex-combatants who had established their own settlement after the disarmament program and
turned to cooperative charcoal production as an exclusive source of income (Munro and van der Horst 2012a).
Another critical example of these trends is the massive expansion of rural lumber production. Prior to
the 1990s, chainsaws were rare in Sierra Leone and used almost exclusively by large commercial timber
operations such as FIC and SILETI, while village-level lumber production was modest in scale and based
almost exclusively on labor-intensive pit-sawing. Following the end of the civil war, this situation began to
change rapidly as a number of developments combined to stimulate the rapid proliferation of chainsaws in
the country (Munro and van der Horst 2012a, 2012b). First, as part of the effort to resettle citizens displaced
during the conict, government agencies provided chainsaws to chiefdoms all over the country, training local
residents (and notably a fair number of re-integrated ex-combatants) in their use, in order to facilitate land
clearing and lumber production for the resettlement program. Second, in subsequent years, the government
of neighboring Guinea increasingly cracked down on illegal timber exploitation activities, eventually placing
a ban on timber exports. In response, a number of Guinean chainsaw operators migrated to Sierra Leone,
taking up residence in Sierra Leone villages and passing on chainsaw milling skills to their host communities.
Finally, outbreaks of illegal logging for export in Sierra Leone itself have also contributed signicantly to
both the proliferation of chainsaws in the country and the ways in which the board production industry has
developed. In 2007, a number of Chinese timber merchants crossed the border from Guinea and started
making arrangements with northern communities, often providing chainsaws as direct payment for timber
(Hiemstra-van der Horst 2011; Hiemstra-van der Horst, Munro, and Batterbury 2011; Munro and van der
Horst 2012a). This development not only furthered the dissemination of saws and training in their use for on-
site Chain Saw Milling (CSM) of lumber materials, but also illustrated to many rural youths, entrepreneurs
(and ex-combatants) the protability of the practice, in turn stimulating the growth of this informal sub-sector
and fostering a high demand for chainsaws in rural areas as well as the near disappearance of pit-sawing
operations. Thus the decline in domestic large-scale timber production during the 1980s did not result in a
return to high reliance on timber imports for Sierra Leone—instead the formal sector was supplanted by a
plethora of small-scale producers operating in off-reserve rural areas across the country who, via complex and
varied transportation and trade networks, have rendered the country self-sufcient in timber for the rst time
since the 1970s (Munro and van der Horst 2012a).
Markets for timber and other forest products have continued to expand in the post-war era, due to continued
processes of urbanization and the rebuilding of infrastructure. This has allowed for the continual expansion
of trade in rewood and poles and most villages within a few kilometers of a highway or an urban center are
involved in the selling these commodities, acquiring an important supplement to agricultural income (Munro
and van der Horst 2012a). Moreover, the increase in production capacities has combined with the rapid growth
of many urban centers to perpetuate the growth of the charcoal and lumber trades over the past decade. Thus,
a wide variety of the political, demographic technological and conceptual shifts produced by the war and its
aftermath have now become entrenched in the political-economic structures and functioning of the country
as a whole. Supply chains—while remaining exible—have become institutionalized and expanded and a
nascent process of capitalization has emerged.
Policy vs Praxis: Formality, Informality and Tensions in the New Sierra Leonean Forest Socio-Ecologies
As illustrated by the preceding analysis, the Sierra Leonean civil war and its aftermath have proved both
brutally destructive and creatively productive, dismantling the status quo and generating a range of novel
necessities, experiences and opportunities leading to important recongurations of thinking and practice with
respect to forests and the forestry sector. In essence, the shifts and changes described above ultimately created
a space of possibility in which the transformation of forest socio-ecologies across Sierra Leone could—and
almost inevitably would—take place. The disintegration of formal governance in rural areas, the undermining
of agrarian livelihood strategies, mass human displacement and the creation of both new and expanded
© 2015
From John Idriss Lahai and Tanya Lyons (eds), African Frontiers: Insurgency, Governance and
Peacebuilding in Postcolonial States, published by Ashgate Publishing.
See: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781472460080
ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com
© Copyrighted Material
© Copyrighted Material
African Frontiers
126
economic markets all combined to produce a critical political-economic context in which novel rural-urban
productive networks could emerge and the nature and role of forests in rural life could be re-imagined. Key
to these processes, of course, were technological shifts facilitated by new social relations within novel human
networks of knowledge exchange, collaboration and entrepreneurial mobilization.
The result of these disruptions and re-formations has been a national scale shift at the grass-roots level
away from the previous externally imposed vision of a formally managed and centrally directed forestry
sector to the development of vibrant and spontaneous informal practice that allows for the participation of
a wide range of new actors. Rural residents’ responses to the vagaries of chaotic conict and the unstable
conditions of peacebuilding have thus produced a considerable transformation of people-forest relationships
across the country. These, in turn, are supported and reproduced by new rural-urban political and economic
relationships via the emergence of capitalized and (more-or-less) systematized, but also informal, exible and
even (spatially) ephemeral forest product supply networks. This has been facilitated by the emergence of a new
political and socio-ecological dispensation in which ongoing population movements and rising urbanization
continue to drive the growth and evolution that has not only reshaped forest-society and urban-rural linkages
but also spun them away from de jure centralized control. The small-scale domestic trading networks of
forest products that emerged during the civil war have been increasingly extensied, institutionalized and
capitalized in the post-war era even as state inuence over forest management across the country crumbled
into near non-existence. In its place a de facto process of democratization and localization of socio-ecological
governance has begun to emerge despite an adversarial legislative environment that continues to emphasize
the importance of reviving centralized bureaucratic control and large-scale industrial timber production.
Indeed, the nascent small-scale commercial forestry industry in Sierra Leone currently sits in signicant
tension with the orientation, rhetoric and goals of the Forestry Division (née Department)4 which is trying
to swim against the popular current to re-establish export-oriented forestry in the country and more direct
control over the country’s forest resources in toto. Not long ago, for example, it oversaw both the sale of
the FIC’s former rights and production infrastructure to a Nigerian company (Munro and van der Horst
2012b) as well as the announcement (though not effective implementation) of a national system of fees
and regulations that effectively criminalized small-scale producers (Hiemstra-van der Horst 2011). This
orientation, however, is merely an extension of the agency’s historical struggle to mold a commercial forestry
sector—both domestic and export-oriented—that conforms to its own image of “proper practice” rooted in
colonial era perceptions and ideology. While a lively domestic commercial sector did emerge during the civil
war it was not one aligned to the model of large-scale, spatially stable and centrally supervised heavy industry
envisaged by Sierra Leone’s professional foresters. Instead it is informal, mobile, dynamic and conducted by
a mosaic of small-scale producers working in complex rural-urban networks effectively beyond the ability
of the Division to contain. As a result, the Division has become not the progenitor and stern “parent” of a
modern internationally oriented industry but rather little more than a spectator observing with apprehension
the development and rapid growth of a spontaneous and vibrant grass-roots driven suite of forest-based
production chains delivering much needed simple and low cost materials to domestic markets. In essence, the
initiative has shifted considerably from the center to the periphery as forest-based lives and livelihoods have
been reconceived and a new socio-ecological dispensation has emerged.
Conclusion: The Roads Ahead
Despite the relatively dramatic nature of these developments, it is difcult to speculate what the future holds
for forestry and its subsectors in Sierra Leone. The transformations produced by the civil war and its aftermath
have considerably changed the rules of the game with respect to forest industry and governance but in ways
that have raised the concerns and ire of central regulators. Importantly, as the Forestry Division continues to
work toward the re-centralization of control, it is increasingly supported both technically and nancially by
the international community via a range of initiatives tied to the broader Global Forest Governance (GFG)
regime (Hiemstra-van der Horst et al. 2011). As progress is made toward implementation of national-level
4 The Forestry Department was renamed the Forestry Division during the 1990s.
Copyright material: You are not permitted to transmit this file in any format or media;
it may not be resold or reused without prior agreement with Ashgate Publishing and
may not be placed on any publicly accessible or commercial servers.
ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com
© Copyrighted Material
© Copyrighted Material
Breaks with the Past 127
programs under the United Nations’ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation UN-
REDD+, the European Unions’ Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (EU-FLEGT) program, and
the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) (although the last has not yet been extended to the
forestry sector in Sierra Leone as it has elsewhere, such as in Liberia) it is almost certain that the monitoring
and regulatory capacity of the Division will be considerably strengthened (indeed this is a key pre-requisite
for participation in either of the rst two initiatives which are already in development).
At the same time, however, the very nature of the new informal forestry practices and their exible,
ephemeral and diffuse networks makes them extremely unamenable to classic modernist command and control
approaches to resource management. Moreover, in line with current discourses of pro-poor development
and stakeholder participation these initiatives also come with their own prescriptions for negotiation and
resolution of tensions and conicts within the sector to ensure that lower income and less formally established
actors are not unfairly treated or unreasonably disadvantaged. This is a critical consideration in the context
of peacebuilding in Sierra Leone where widespread employment—especially for youth—is seen as a critical
ingredient for maintaining stability (Peeters, Cunningham, Acharya and Van Adams 2009; Peters 2011).
The change in the productivity regime of the forestry sector can therefore be contextualized within the
broader shift in Sierra Leone from an externally conditioned formal economic sector (since devastated by
the war) to a more spontaneous informal economic sector (Lahai 2012). As has been noted by Lahai (2012),
such a post-war informal economy has been critical to Sierra Leoneans (particularly the youth) striving to
carve out pioneering survival strategies. The small-scale productive forest sector has thus created a critical
space—not only economically, but also in terms of identity- for communities to occupy in their path towards
reconstruction. Therefore, any approach based on either rigid control or simple eradication of the existing
charcoal, lumber and other commodity chains is not only impracticable from a capacity perspective, but a
political non-starter given the income it provides to a sizeable section of the populace as well as the urgency
of broad based social demands for their products. As a result, it seems evident that current pressures strongly
favor the evolution of a compromise in which formal central policy and informal peripheral practice will both
have to adapt and change meeting somewhere in the middle. How, when and to what extent this may occur,
however, remains an open question.
References
Abdullah, I. (1998). Bush Path to Destruction: The Origin and Character of the Revolutionary United Front/
Sierra Leone. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 36(2): 203–35.
Abdullah, I. (2002). Space Culture and Agency in Contemporary Freetown: The Making and Remaking of a
Postcolonial City. In O. Enwezor, C. Basualdo, U.M. Bauer, S. Ghez, S. Maharaj, M. Nash, and O. Zaya
(eds), Under Siege: Four African Cities, Freetown, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Lagos. Germany: Hatje
Cantz Publishers, 201–12.
Abdullah, I. (2004). Between Democracy and Terror: The Sierra Leone Civil War. South Africa: Unisa Press.
Abraham, A. (1993). Local Government and the Provision of Social Services in Sierra Leone. In C.M. Fyle
(ed.), The State and the Provision of Social Services in Sierra Leone since Independence, 1961–1991.
Oxford: CODESRIA.
Akiwumi, F.A. (2006a). Conict Timber, Conict Diamonds: Parallels in the Political Ecology of 19th and 20th
Century Resource Exploitation in Sierra Leone. In K. Konadu-Agyemang (ed.), Africa’s Development in
the Twenty-rst Century: Pertinent Socio-Economic and Development Issues. Aldershot: Ashgate, 109–25.
Akiwumi, F.A. (2006b). Environmental and Social Change in Southwestern Sierra Leone: Timber Extraction
(1832–1898) and Rutile Mining (1967–2005). PhD dissertation, Texas State University.
Alie, J. (1990). A New History of Sierra Leone. London: MacMillan.
Alieu, E.K. (2001). FOSA Country Report: Sierra Leone. Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Sierra
Leone, Sierra Leone.
Binns, T. and Maconachie, R. (2005). “Going Home” in Postconict Sierra Leone: Diamonds, Agriculture and
re-Building Rural Livelihoods in the Eastern Province. Geography, 90(1), 67–78, doi: 10.2307/40574030.
Blood, H.R. (1941). Reorganisation and Expansion of the Forestry Department. Freetown: Government Printer.
© 2015
From John Idriss Lahai and Tanya Lyons (eds), African Frontiers: Insurgency, Governance and
Peacebuilding in Postcolonial States, published by Ashgate Publishing.
See: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781472460080
ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com
© Copyrighted Material
© Copyrighted Material
African Frontiers
128
Boadi, K., Kuitunen, M., Raheem, K. and Hanninen, K. (2005). Urbanisation without Development:
Environmental and Health Implications in African Cities. Environment, Development and Sustainability,
7(4): 465–500.
Bøås, M. (2001). Liberia and Sierra Leone—Dead Ringers? The Logic of Neopatrimonial Rule. Third World
Quarterly, 22(5): 697–723.
Braidwood, S.J. (1994). Black Poor and White Philanthropists: London’s Blacks and the Foundation of the
Sierra Leone Settlement 1786–1791. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
Chimni, B.S. (2002). Refugees, Return and Reconstruction of “Post-Conict” Societies: A Critical Perspective.
International Peacekeeping, 9(2): 163–80, doi: 10.1080/714002734.
Cline-Cole, R.A. (1993). Wartime Forest Energy Policy and Practice in British West Africa: Social and
Economic Impact on the Labouring Classes 1939–45. Africa, 63(1): 56–79.
Colson, E. (1971). The Impact of the Colonial Period on the Denition of Land Rights. In P. Duignam
and L.H. Gann (eds), Colonialism in Africa 1870–1960: Volume 3. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 193–215.
Crisp, J. (2000). Africa’s Refugees: Patterns, Problems and Policy Challenges. Journal of Contemporary
African Studies, 18(2), 157–78. doi: 10.1080/02589000050080986.
Davies, V.A.B. (2000). Sierra Leone: Ironic Tragedy. Journal of African Economies, 9(3): 349–69.
Endeld, G.H. and Nash, D.J. (2002). Missionaries and Morals: Climatic Discourse in Nineteenth-Century
Central Southern Africa. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 92(4): 727–42.
Fairhead, J. and Leach, M. (1998). Reframing Deforestation: Global Analyses and Local Realities With
Studies in West Africa. London: Routledge.
Fairhead, J. and Leach, M. (2000). Shaping Socio-Ecological and Historical Knowledge if Deforestation in
Sierra Leone, Liberia and Togo. In R.A. Cline-Cole and C. Madge (eds), Contesting Forestry in West
Africa. Ashgate: Aldershot, 64–95.
Forde, W. (2011). The Story of Mining in Sierra Leone. Xlibris Corporation.
Gberie, L. (2005). A Dirty War in West Africa: the RUF and the Destruction of Sierra Leone. Bloomington:
Indiana University Press.
Grainger, A. and Konteh, W. (2007). Autonomy, Ambiguity and Symbolism in African Politics: The
Development of Forest Policy in Sierra Leone. Land Use Policy, 24(1): 42–61.
Grant, J.A. (2005). Diamonds, Foreign Aid and the Uncertain Prospects for Post-Conict Reconstruction in
Sierra Leone. The Round Table, 94(381): 443–57, doi: 10.1080/00358530500243690.
Harris, D. (2014). Sierra Leone: A Political History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hartley, D. (1992). Forest Resource Use and Subsistence in Sierra Leone. PhD dissertation, UCL.
Hiemstra-van der Horst, G.A. (2011). “We are Scared to Say No”: Facing Foreign Timber Companies in
Sierra Leone’s Community Woodlands. Journal of Development Studies, 47(4), 574–94.
Hiemstra-van der Horst, G.A., Munro, P.G., and Batterbury, S.P.J. (2011). Les réseaux illégaux du pillage:
La demande globale de bois et la (re)commercialisation des forêts d’Afrique de l’Ouest. Écologie &
Politique, 42: 47–58.
Hoffman, D. (2007). The Meaning of a Militia: Understanding the Civil Defence Forces of Sierra Leone.
African Affairs, 106(425): 639–62.
Hoffman, D. (2011). The War Machines: Young men and violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Durham,NC:
Duke University Press.
Hoogvelt, A.M.M. and Tinker, A.M. (1978). The Role of Colonial and Post-Colonial States in Imperialism-a
Case-Study of the Sierra Leone Development Company. The Journal of Modern African Studies,
16(1): 67–79.
Kaindaneh, P. (1993). State Provision of Transport and Communication Services in Sierra Leone. In C.M. Fyle
(ed.), The State and the Provision of Social Service in Sierra Leone Since Independence, 1961–91. Oxford:
CODESRIA Book Series, 20–43.
Kandeh, J.D. (1999). Ransoming the State: Elite Origins of Subaltern Terror in Sierra Leone. Review of
African Political Economy, 26(81): 349–66.
Keen, D. (2005). Conict & Collusion in Sierra Leone. London: James Currey Oxford.
Copyright material: You are not permitted to transmit this file in any format or media;
it may not be resold or reused without prior agreement with Ashgate Publishing and
may not be placed on any publicly accessible or commercial servers.
ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com
© Copyrighted Material
© Copyrighted Material
Breaks with the Past 129
Kpundeh, S.J. (1994). Limiting Administrative Corruption in Sierra Leone. The Journal of Modem African
Studies, 32(1): 139–57.
Lahai, J.I. (2012). Youth Agency and Survival Strategies in Sierra Leone’s Postwar Informal Economy.
In M.O. Ensor (ed.), African Childhoods: Education, Development, Peacebuilding, and the Youngest
Continent: Palgrave Macmillan, 47–60.
Leach, M. (1990). Images of Propriety: The Reciprocal Constitution of Gender and Resource use in the Life
of a Sierra Leonean Forest Village. PhD thesis, University of London.
Leach, M. (1992). Dealing with Displacement: Refugee-Host Relations, Food and Forest Resources
in Sierra Leonean Mende Communities during the Liberian Inux, 1990–91. Sussex: Institute of
Development Studies.
Leach, M. (1994). Rainforest Relations: Gender and Resource Use among the Mende of Gola, Sierra Leone.
Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Luke, D.F. and Riley, S.P. (1989). The Politics of Economic Decline in Sierra Leone. Journal of Modern
African Studies, 27(1): 133–41.
Maconachie, R., Binns, T., Tengbe, P., and Johnson, R. (2006). Temporary Labour Migration and Sustainable
Post-conict Return in Sierra Leone. GeoJournal, 67(3): 223–40, doi: 10.1007/s10708-007-9056-1.
Medeiros, E. (2007). Integrating Mental Health into Post-conict Rehabilitation The Case of Sierra Leonean
and Liberian Child Soldiers. Journal of Health Psychology, 12(3): 498–504.
Meredith, D. (1986). State Controlled Marketing and Economic “Development”: The Case of West African
Produce during the Second World War. The Economic History Review, 39(1): 77–91.
Munro, P.G. (2009). Deforestation: Constructing Problems and Solutions on Sierra Leone’s Freetown
Peninsula. The Journal of Political Ecology, 16(1): 104–24.
Munro, P.G. (2015). A Critical History of Forest Conservation in Sierra Leone. PhD thesis, University of
Melbourne, Melbourne.
Munro, P.G. and Hiemstra-van der Horst, G.A. (2011). Conserving Exploitation?: A Political Ecology of
Forestry Policy in Sierra Leone. The Australasian Review of African Studies, 32(1): 59–72.
Munro, P.G. and van der Horst, G. (forthcoming). Contesting African Landscapes: a critical reappraisal
of Sierra Leone’s competing forest cover histories. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space,
under submission.
Munro, P.G. and van der Horst, G.A. (2012a). The Domestic Trade in Timber and Fuelwood Products in Sierra
Leone: Current Dynamics and Issues. Freetown: FAO/EU.
Munro, P.G. and van der Horst, G.A. (2012b). The Governance and Trade of Wood-based Products in and
around the Kambui Hills North Forest Reserve. Freetown: USAID ACDI/VOCA.
Neumann, R.P. (2005). Making Political Ecology. London: Hodder Arnold.
Norwegian Refugee Council (2002). Internally Displaced People: A Global Survey (2nd edn).
London: Earthscan.
Ofce of the President (1980). Sierra Leone: 12 Years of Economic Achievement and Political Consolidation
under the APC and Dr Siaka Stevens: 1968–1980. Freetown: State House.
Peeters, P., Cunningham, W., Acharya, G., and Van Adams, A. (2009). Youth Employment in Sierra Leone:
Sustainable Livelihood Opportunities in a Post-conict Setting. Washington DC: World Bank Publication.
Pelly, R.S. (1952). Statement by the Forest Authority, Sierra Leone Prepared for the Sixth Commonwealth
Forestry Conference, 1952. Freetown: Government Printer.
Peters, K. (2011). War and the Crisis of Youth in Sierra Leone. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Phillips, A. (1989). The Enigma of Colonialism: British Policy in West Africa. London: Currey.
Reno, W. (1995). Corruption and State Politics in Sierra Leone. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Richards, P. (1996). Fighting for the Rain Forest: War Youth and Resources in Sierra Leone. Oxford:
James Currey.
Richards, P. (2005). The Mano River Conicts as Forest Wars. ETRFN News, 43–4.
Riddell, J.B. (1985). Urban Bias in Underdevelpment: Appropriation from the Countryside in Post-Colonial
Sierra Leone. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geograe, 76(5): 374–83.
Riddell, J.B. (2005). Sierra Leone: Urban-elite bias, atrocity & debt. Review of African Political Economy,
32(103): 115–33.
© 2015
From John Idriss Lahai and Tanya Lyons (eds), African Frontiers: Insurgency, Governance and
Peacebuilding in Postcolonial States, published by Ashgate Publishing.
See: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781472460080
ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com ashgate.com
© Copyrighted Material
© Copyrighted Material
African Frontiers
130
Sargent, J.S. (1993). A Fieldtrip Report: Displaced Sierra Leoneans and Liberian Refugees in Sierra Leone.
Dartmouth College.
Siddle, D., and Swindell, K. (1990). Rural Change in Tropical Africa: From Colonies to Nation States.
London: Blackwell.
Sierra Leone Trade Journal. (1968). Sierra Leone Forest Industries Corporation. 8(2): 38–41.
Tuboku-Metzger, D. (1983). Forest Exploitation in Sierra Leone: A Tale of Devastation. The Ecologist,
13(6): 239–41.
Zack-Williams, A.B. (1997). Kamajors, “Sober” & the Militariat: Civil Society & the Return of
the Military in Sierra Leonean Politics. Review of African Political Economy, 24(73): 373–80,
doi: 10.1080/03056249708704269.
Zack-Williams, A.B. (1999). Sierra Leone: The Political Economy of Civil War, 1991–98. Third World
Quarterly, 20(1): 143–62.
Copyright material: You are not permitted to transmit this file in any format or media;
it may not be resold or reused without prior agreement with Ashgate Publishing and
may not be placed on any publicly accessible or commercial servers.
... The use of firewood, in particular, is undoubtedly many centuries old and even its commercial sale dates back to at least the 15th century when coastal populations began exchanging goods with passing Portuguese merchant ships [41]. Indeed, firewood remained a dominant cooking fuel even in urban centres until the end of the 20th century [42,43] while charcoal -despite its considerable advantages for the end user remained largely peripheral and uncommoditized -produced and consumed mainly by rural blacksmiths [44]. ...
... Following the end of the war, a great many brought this new knowledge back during resettlement to start production in their home villages. Furthermore, since the war, Guinean traders and semi-nomadic charcoal making teams have stayed in or near many Sierra Leonean villages in the border regions, teaching the trade to a considerable number of people, particularly in the north of the country [44]. ...
... As a result of creative responses to the random interactions and opportunities produced by a turbulent and chaotic socio-political crisis, charcoal production, distribution and sale has become a multimillion-dollar industry. The fuel produces considerable urban-rural economic transfers and now dominates urban (and increasingly rural) kitchens across Sierra Leone [14,44]. Freetown is exemplary of this change: in 1960, only an estimated 0.9% of the populace used charcoal, rising to 37.6% in 1981 [45]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Historically, “energy poverty” in Sub-Saharan Africa has been understood in relatively static terms and its solutions largely understood as a modernist state-led project of expanding centralised distribution to achieve a coordinated ‘transition’ from traditional fuels. In recent decades, however, political economies of energy in the region have exhibited considerable dynamism, changing what energy poverty looks like. The rapid dissemination of mobile phones, for example, has meant that most households now require near daily access to some form of electricity, inducing creative local responses. As well, with increased Sino-African trade, a plethora of cheap lighting products such as dry-cell battery torches and small-scale solar products have become widely available, reducing consumer interest in kerosene lamps and fuel. Finally, charcoal has emerged as a key cooking fuel for growing urban populations – introducing a new/expanded source of rural revenue while disrupting a decades long official campaign to induce ‘transition’ from firewood to LPG. We demonstrate how these particular changes are occurring through the example of dynamics in Sierra Leone in West Africa.
... The arrival of so many new migrants created a significant upsurge in demand for cheap household energy supplies, which in turn created vibrant new firewood and charcoal supply industries. Importantly, the demographic shift also provided the social means of organisation for these novel commodity chains as the migrants retained close ties to their villages of origin, which served as the basis for strategic trade networks linking rural producers to urban markets (Munro and van der Horst, 2015). Moreover, the establishment of camps for refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDP) augmented these patterns. ...
... Growing rapidly, they became significant sites of economic activity and firewood trade became an important microindustry (Leach, 1992;Sargent, 1993). Indeed, the national-scale commercialisation of firewood now evident in Sierra Leone was largely a product of experiences in the IDP camps where many displaced rural residents began for the first time to think of the previously subsistence product as a tradeable commodity (Munro and van der Horst, 2015). ...
... While the reconceptualization of firewood and its attendant rapid commercialisation have been noteworthy, the rise of charcoal as a household fuel has been a still more significant socio-economic development. Until the mid-1990s, charcoal was a largely peripheral and uncommoditized materialconsumed only in small quantities primarily by rural blacksmiths and of marginal importance relative to firewood which was a nearly universal household subsistence fuel (Munro and van der Horst, 2015). Charcoal is widely considered a superior fuel to firewood as it burns more efficiently, works well with stoves, is easier to transport and produces very little smoke. ...
Article
With Sustainable Development Goal 7, the United Nations has declared its ambition to ensure access to modern energy for all by 2030. Aside from broad appeals to differentiated responsibilities and 'greener' technologies, however, the goal leaves significant procedural questions unaddressed. This paper argues that the basic orientation of this approach is problematic, undermining possibilities for progress toward energy justice and equitable development. First, in framing the issue of global energy distribution in broad techno-managerial terms it obscures how particular geographies of energy poverty have been shaped by critical political economic influences. Second, in privileging modern forms of energy and focusing on an end state of universal adoption, over a broader goal of eliminating energy poverty, the approach of SDG7 presents tangible hazards to many of those it seeks to benefit. Using a case study of Sierra Leonean rural cooking energy policy, we demonstrate how the underlying mentality of SDG7 feeds into existing discourses that marginalise producers and users of 'traditional' energy sources, threatening important livelihoods. With such evidence, we argue that for justice in energy policy to be realised holistically, there is a need to question how our knowledge of energy ‘problems’ have emerged to avoid epistemologically autarchic policy positions.
... They note that this "inconspicuous globalization" can be perceived by "examining geopolitical reconfigurations, the type of traded goods, the growing role of economic actors such as entrepreneur-migrants and diasporas, and the changing hierarchy among cities" and that it "is structured along rural centers, small towns, and paths that are not easy to access even for the stakeholders who operate in these regions." The presence of these "unaffiliated" solar off-grid products is thus the result of capitalized and more-or-less systemized, but also informal, flexible, and spatially ephemeral diaspora supply networks (Munro and van der Horst, 2015;Mainet and Racaud, 2015;Racaud, 2015). As a result of these networks, similar, if not the same, generic brand off-grid solar products can be found across variety shops in Gulu, Mzuzu, and Luganville. ...
... Intriguingly, despite widespread poverty, a lack of state intervention and the piecemeal nature of NgO-led projects, Sierra Leoneans have been re-working the energy sector from the ground up and there is considerable evidence of a broad transition towards 'improved' sources of fuel and light. First, although firewood was the dominant rural and urban cooking fuel prior to the 1990s (Davidson, 1985;Kamara, 1986), over the past decade there has been a dramatic rise in the (rural) production and (urban) consumption of charcoal, producing considerable economic as well as health and safety benefits (Munro and van der Horst, 2015). The second key shift, more pertinent to the present discussion, has been the change in rural lighting patterns. ...
Article
Full-text available
In many parts of Africa, the spread of grid electrical networks into rural areas has remained a pernicious challenge. There has been a persistent bias towards expanding electricity access to urban centres, perhaps understandably as they are the main drivers of national economic growth. In contrast, the expansion of grid electricity networks into rural areas is largely seen as being financially unviable and thus is unlikely to be achieved in the foreseeable future. Using the example of energy kiosks in Sierra Leone, this paper examines the potential commercial and policy implications of a social enterprise approach to address this impasse. Specifically, the success of the community charging station model of one non-governmental organization, Energy For Opportunity, is evaluated in the context of ongoing commercial viability, the overcoming of financial and technological barriers, and the lack of for-profit entities in the market. This case study demonstrates how an innovative blending of non-profit and for-profit models of development interventions can provide effective institutional arrangements to realize solar electrification in rural Africa.
... For most of the 1990s, Sierra Leone was in a state of civil war, and this proved to be a major setback for wildlife conservation programs in the country (Oates 1999). During the latter part of the 1990s, field trips by NGOs and government officials outside of Freetown became near impossible to conduct, and all field conservation activities came to a halt (Munro and van der Horst 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper details Geza Teleki's contributions in the development of a wildlife conservation movement in Sierra Leone in the late 1970s to early 1980s. Teleki, a primatologist researcher and an animal rights activist, arrived in Sierra Leone in 1979 to find an inactive government wildlife conservation program and a thriving primate export sector. Shocked by what he saw, he worked with local and international environmentalists to build a wildlife conservationist movement in Sierra Leone. From capricious negotiations with presidential dictator Siaka Stevens to theurgical conflicts with local communities, Teleki helped to lay the groundwork for transforming wildlife conservation in the small West African nation. In this paper, I explore these contributions, reconstructing Teleki's position as a historical actor in Sierra Leone as well as providing some reflection on how the legacy of his work has been inscribed upon Sierra Leone's contemporary wildlife conservation landscape.
Book
“Empire forestry”—the broadly shared forest management practice that emerged in the West in the nineteenth century—may have originated in Europe, but it would eventually reshape the landscapes of colonies around the world. Melding the approaches of environmental history and political ecology, Colonial Seeds in African Soil unravels the complex ways this dynamic played out in twentieth-century colonial Sierra Leone. While giving careful attention to topics such as forest reservation and exploitation, the volume moves beyond conservation practices and discourses, attending to the overlapping social, economic, and political contexts that have shaped approaches to forest management over time.
Article
Full-text available
The traditional concept of security has broadened over the past decades. Food security in South Africa is an imperative for human and non-human survival. In the contemporary political economy, there is a real nexus between globalisation, exploitation, the state, scarcity of resources, the market, peoples’ need to feel secure, notions of state responsibility and food production. Political economy and human security in theoretical debates and face-to-face politics are intrinsically linked. The notion of a ‘secure community’ changed. Food security and the right to quality living became a social imperative. Understanding current agricultural economics requires the ability to link security and access to food for all. In this case study, wheat production in South Africa is addressed against the interface of the global and the local including South Africa’s transition to a democratic and constitutional state with a Bill of Rights. The current security approach represents a more comprehensive understanding of what security is meant to be and include, amongst others, housing security, medical security, service delivery and food security, as set out in the Millennium Development Goals and the subsequent Sustainable Development Goals. The issue of food security is addressed here with particular reference to wheat production, related current government policies and the market economy. The authors chose to limit their socio-economic focus to a specific sector of the agricultural market, namely wheat, rather than discuss food security in South Africa in general. Wheat was chosen as a unit of analysis because as a crop, wheat used in bread is one of the staples for the majority of South Africans and given the current negative economic developments, wheat as a staple is likely to remain integral, if not increasing its status of dependability
Article
Full-text available
In the late-1990s anthropologists James Fairhead and Melissa Leach declared in a series of seminal publications that mainstream understandings of Sierra Leonean forest cover history had greatly exaggerated its past extent and rate of conversion to other land uses. Using archival evidence, they recast the ‘official’ story as a product of antiquated European environmental philosophy rather than empirical data. Moreover, they found that it distorted environmental policy by perpetuating images of a mythological past in which once nearly universal forest cover had been (and continued to be) denuded and degraded by irrational, primitive rural agricultural practices. Building on this foundation, they developed a trenchant critique of the existing academic literature describing land cover change in Sierra Leone, discounting most findings on the grounds of the authors’ uncritical engagement with the colonial-era narrative. In this article we present a re-evaluation of this influential thesis, arguing that while their broader critique is quite sound, historical deforestation in Sierra Leone has most certainly been considerably exaggerated, Fairhead and Leach overreached in their dismissal of prior works. Drawing upon new empirical data, we revisit these debates and develop a more nuanced critical platform from which to understand Sierra Leone’s forest cover history.
Book
“Empire forestry”—the broadly shared forest management practice that emerged in the West in the nineteenth century—may have originated in Europe, but it would eventually reshape the landscapes of colonies around the world. Melding the approaches of environmental history and political ecology, Colonial Seeds in African Soil unravels the complex ways this dynamic played out in twentieth-century colonial Sierra Leone. While giving careful attention to topics such as forest reservation and exploitation, the volume moves beyond conservation practices and discourses, attending to the overlapping social, economic, and political contexts that have shaped approaches to forest management over time.
Article
Surveys the significant economic and social changes which have occurred in rural Africa in the colonial and post-colonial periods. Firstly deals with the processes of change, describing rural structures and systems of production as they have undergone adaptation and transformation. Chapters examine farm labour, migration, land tenure, markets, pastoralists and traders. The effects of planned intervention in the form of village projects, large-scale irrigation schemes and settler activity are then assessed. The final chapters give a review of theories of development, pointing out their widely divergent views and prescriptions, and offer some comments on the African agricultural "crisis'. -M.Amos
Chapter
In postcolonial Africa, thousands of young people have successfully confronted the challenges presented by wars and political violence. Yet, in most cases, the experiences of African youngsters have been framed and analyzed only in relation to their potentially disruptive behaviors (Rashid et al. 2009; McIntyre et al. 2002). Adult skepticism about the younger members of African society has not only placed young people at the margins of society and of the political and economic processes, but it has also limited the focus of analyses. It has prevented a number of scholars from understanding the ability of the youth in handling their agentive possibilities.
Article
This study reviews how West African deforestation is represented and the evidence which informs deforestation orthodoxy. On a country by country basis (covering Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote D'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin), and using historical and social anthropological evidence the authors evaluate this orthodox critically. Reframing Deforestation suggests that the scale of deforestation wrought by West African farmers during the twentieth century has been vastly exaggerated. The authors argue that global analyses have unfairly stigmatised West Africa and obscured its more sustainable, even landscape-enriching practices. Stessing that dominant policy approaches in forestry and conservation require major rethinking worldwide, Reframing Deforestation illustrates that more realistic assessments of forest cover change, and more respectful attention to local knowledge and practices, are necessary bases for effective and appropriate environmental policies.
Article
Sierra Leone has recently emerged from a long period of political instability and civil war, which has relegated the country to the bottom of the world human development league table. A process of reconstruction and rehabilitation is now underway, to restore livelihoods, repair damaged infrastructure and rebuild the economy. The sustainable development of valuable mineral resources and the restoration of rural production systems and food security are important priorities. This article examines the post-war reconstruction process and presents evidence from communities in the Eastern Province which were badly affected during the conflict. Although some progress is being made, the pace of change is slow, and the threat of a return to instabiliiy is a common concern among all citizens and organisations, from national government to individuals and communities at the grassroots level. Geography