The discussions were moderated by Coralie Pierret, journalist and correspondent for RFI in Guinea. The speakers were Gaël Giraud, Chief Economist at Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Didier Bazzo, Geographer and Technical Adviser at the National Observatory of the Republic of Guinea (ONRG), Moustapha Diop, Social Anthropologist, Professor and Researcher at the University of Sonfonia in Conakry, and M’mah Keita, Geologist and Director of the Health, Environment, Security and Community Commission in the Women in Mining of Guinea network. This conference was introduced by Patricia Aubras, Director of Agence Française de Développement in Guinea.
You will find the summary of the conference below :
The commons : An alternative to private and public management
In addition to private goods, which fall under purely market-based management, and public goods, which fall under State management, there are a whole host of intermediate goods, which include the commons. “They are goods for which it is difficult to control access, but for which an unregulated and private management will cause the resource to disappear. For example, fish in the oceans : if we continue to fish as we do today, there will be no more edible fish between 2040 and 2050”, explains Gaël Giraud. “As fish gradually disappear, they will be replaced by jellyfish. Do we want to build a planet in which the oceans will be populated by jellyfish by 2040 ?”.
Are we able to build hybrid institutions together that are neither private nor public and will establish rules to manage scarce resources ? Gaël Giraud mentions five examples of fundamental commons to build Guinea’s future : the climate, energy, minerals, biodiversity and… money.
Restore traditional resources management
In Guinea, the management of the commons has shaped societies. In the Southeast of the country, villages have been established close to forests, which were subsequently developed by the population. They introduced fruit trees in them and preserved species of pharmaceutical interest. “It is therefore a collective management of a non-appropriated good”, comments Didier Bazzo. Furthermore, societies, by managing the commons, have shaped landscapes. In Fouta Djallon, the Peul communities, particularly between Dalaba and Mamou, have organized crop rotations in villages, although the land belongs to individuals. It is therefore a common and collective management of individual goods.
“This management is sustainable. To maintain it, there were traditional rules, but nowadays, they are often abandoned in favor of ‘modern’ practices”, continues the geographer. These traditional regulations should be transposed into local usage rules in order to ensure these models continue.
Plan in order to overturn the patrimonial confusion
Traditional management based on rights of use, sharing and transmission, in opposition to the principle of private property, was opposed during the colonial period. “But certain traditional models have continued”, points out Moustapha Diop. “Today we live alongside two systems, which causes a patrimonial confusion”. This has negative impacts on the environment. For example, Conakry is one of the only cities in West Africa where we do not see the sea. The reason for this ? The uncontrolled occupation of land, according to the researcher.
The State has lost control of the development of its space, which causes patrimonial conflicts in Guinea. “The authorities wanted to recover the Kaporo Rail area in Conakry, but they did not develop it immediately. It was reoccupied by communities, taken over again by the State, always with abuses, particularly violations of human and ownership rights in order to evict the occupants”, says the researcher. A strong political decision is essential in order to plan land use and reorganize the land register, and thereby fight against the uncontrolled occupation of land.
Develop the mining sector by respecting the environment and communities
Bauxite, iron, gold, diamonds… Guinea has a wealth of resources which do not have a positive impact on poverty reduction. The exploitation of these resources has devastating consequences on the environment. M’mah Keita gives an example : in Siguiri, in Upper Guinea, large areas are devastated by mining. The region is rapidly heading towards an environmental scandal due to uncontrolled land use, the depletion of aquifers with the large numbers of boreholes, pressure on forests with the population explosion… Communities are often expropriated or “relocated”, their way of life is disturbed, populations are impoverished and their culture is lost.
In addition, in these mining areas, there is never any question of rehabilitation. “Although legislation exists, the Mining Code was reformed in 2011, it is only partially applied in the field. The environment and communities need to be taken into account in order to develop this important sector” concludes the geologist.
The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of their institutions or of AFD.