Course:FRST370/The PREVINOBA Village Reforestation Project in the Groundnut Belt, Tivaouane, Senegal

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This study analyzes the PREVINOBA Village Reforestation Project based in the district of Tivaouane, Thiès Region, also known as the “groundnut belt” 3. We aim to analyze the power relations within the PREVINOBA project to make the argument that the Forest State Service has denied the local communities their right over land, leaving them powerless and vulnerable. Additionally, we discuss the role of gender in forest management and provide an in-depth discussion of the different actors influencing the operational structure and social processes. While there have been many direct benefits provided to the local community by the State Forest, the insecurity over land tenure is a major issue yet to be discussed by the government.


The project started in 1986 and lasted for a period of three years, the second phase lasted for five years and ended in 19943. The project was initiated by the Department of Water, Forests, Hunting and Soil Conservation of the Ministry of Environment and Protection of Nature3. The project was financially funded by the government of Netherlands and received technical support from The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations3. The project has a rural population of roughly 210,000 people, living in 907 small villages, which constitute 13 Rural Municipalities3. The main goals of the project are to promote the large-scale participation of the population in forestry activities, restore the forestry cover for local self-sufficiency in forestry products and increase the financial means of the farmers. The project is one of nine projects that constitute FAO's Programme of Forestry Development Assistance to the Government of Senegal.

The main ethnic groups included in the project area are the Wolof (80%), Peul (9%) and Sérère (8%)3. Majority of the community is Muslim and 90% of the women and 80% of the men are uneducated 3. The climate differs between the north and south of the region, in the north the climate is Sahelian and in the south sudano-sahelian3. The dry season lasts from November to July and the wet season takes place between mid-July to mid-October3. Precipitation is considered low in the area; during 1982 and 1991 average rainfall was between 315 and 350 mm annually3. The area is highly impacted by wind erosion due to poor soil conditions and the decrease in agricultural productivity indicates soil degradation3. The region is dependent on extensive and rain-fed agriculture, which is traditionally based on a yearly rotation of groundnuts, millet, cowpeas and fallow3. The region also depends heavily on livestock and is known for playing an important role in the transhumance (seasonal migration of cattle herds) from the northern pastoral region to the agricultural zone of the south3. Unfortunately, forest and natural resources remain scarce throughout the region as most leaves, fruits, and forest products are used by humans and animals3. The annual population growth was estimated at 3%, increasing agricultural and forestry demand3. The extensive land use, unstable climatic conditions, were the main causes for natural resource exploitation and poor living conditions.  

Tenure arrangements

Tenure arrangements. Describe the nature of the tenure: freehold or forest management agreement/arrangements, duration, etc.

During the first phase of PREVINOBA, the village reforestation community opted for a strategy of popular involvement to deal with deforestation and erosion in the groundnut basin7. However, as people’s concerns grew of the rural forestry framework, the second phase of the project focused on local land development and management plans that related people's interests with policy orientations in the sector7. The locals were interested in improving production with sustainable development and conservation. From 1995 to 1999, PREVINOBA shifted aims and worked towards establishing control by farmers' organizations and NGOs, in addition to government structures7. The project was never designed to address gender inequality but given the reality of the operation tasks, women participation turned out to be a primary focus. Men were absent for most of the year, leaving the burden of design and set-up of land management plans on women7. PREVINOBA built partnerships with village organizations, including women's advancement groups to work directly with the villagers and make final decisions regarding reforestation and cultivation activities7.

The project was deeply invested in strengthening grassroots organizations, especially women's groups, to make better use of government services and improve negotiation skills to demand better services7. The tenure situation during the time of the project was favourable, in that it gave rights to the farmers who were planting the trees and encouraged individual investments in afforestation2. As a result of the tenure arrangements, many orchards sprung up and tree densities increased significantly2. However, Local power relations were shown to hinder participation in forestry activities. In the PREVINOBA villages, the heads of the compounds had secure access to plant and protect trees on their farms. However, the young men, who have not yet gained full rights to land use, either do not plant trees or the women plant collectively6. The government gave the State Forest Service responsibility to enforce the national legal regulations for the use of Forests and trees.

The OrbView satellite image from 2012 shows the recovery of field trees, notably in the PREVINOBA intervention area around Mbar Diop2.

Administrative arrangements

Administrative arrangements. Describe the management authority and the reporting system.

The PREVINOBA project functions in close cooperation with the State Forest Service6. The State Forest Service has a twofold aim: they aim to conserve state forest reserves but also promote the exploitation of forests to keep up with wood and charcoal demand6. To protect the forest, the Service helped create local committees to prevent and combat bushfires6. The Service helped increase awareness of environmental problems by organizing symbolic actions such as the annual planting day6. Initiatives for Energy-saving stoves and butane gas were taken to reduce demand for charcoal and firewood6. The Service started nurseries in the project areas to help teach technical skills required for planting and caring for trees. Woodlots, windbreaks, and ‘vivres PAM’ (foodstuffs from the World Food Project) were distributed amongst the locals to encourage their participation6. The Service also implemented legal regulations for the protection of forests and trees, those who violated such laws were subject to fines or imprisonment6. The State Forest Service is in control of granting concessions and licenses, with the condition that the area being used is replanted6.

Affected Stakeholders

  • Initially, actors started from villagers who were the principal ones which included farmers. Villagers used to be the ones initiating actions by implementing them for their own benefit, either at community level, or at the level of the specific interest group (e.g. youth clubs, women's groups), or at individual level.3 However, after PREVINOBA became closely associated with the service, the rural population became isolated and driven away from participating in any actions concerning decision making6.
  • Other actors include administrative authorities, local representatives, NGOs, peasant associations and finally project staff. These are called support actors as their power is to provide their political, educational, organizational and political support in order to support the implementation and planning of activities for the project3.
  • The PREVINOBA project incorporates systematic monitoring, which allows different actors not only to supervise and control implementation of activities but also to identify specific aspects to be strengthened, adjusted or modified3.
  • Before the project became close to the service, project staff members conducted meetings with villagers where populations were able to analyze their natural environment and provide insight with recommendations on the basis of their own observations, experiences and expectations.
  • Project staff is responsible for technical support by providing assistance in management areas such as species selection, tree production as well specific management techniques3.
  • Since farmers are part of a social actor, their power is used through farmer’s training which is supported by project staff3.
  • Years of collaboration and partnership between the project and the villages have resulted in a strengthening of village capacity for diagnosis, organization, implementation and evaluation.
  • Other actors include the State Forest service as they work closely with members of the PREVINOBA project influencing the power of villagers in decision making6. Their addition created tensions within local communities as it removed some of their power as social actors6.
  • With technical support from the project, actors like the village forestry committees are able to supervise project activities carried out at family and community level. In addition, field visits by the project team, administrative authorities and local representatives are organized in order to strengthen the political and institutional commitment to these local level initiatives for forestry development in Senegal3.

Interested Outside Stakeholders

Some of the social actors who are interested stakeholders involved in the PREVINOBA Village Reforestation Project in the Groundnut Belt, Tivaouane, Senegal are CBs and Sector Chiefs, and women. First, CBs and sector Chiefs work to train agents in the Research and Support Group for Rural Self-Promotion11. PREVINOBA project requires CBs to play double roles as both police and extension agent11. As police, they fine farmers for illegal tree cutting, bush fires, and illegal charcoal production, and administer fuelwood cutting permits.

Women occupy a dominant position among agricultural development actors. They account for 81% of agricultural activities, with their average working day lasting from 12 to 15 hours11. PREVINOBA did not express women’s participation in development in an explicit manner but the context forced gender issues to be taken into account. Difficulties encountered by women were recognized (difficulty of access to land, unequal sharing of benefits, overloaded work schedule, limited financial resources, etc. The National Women’s Action Plan (NWAP) stresses the central role of women in sustainable development and the importance of their contribution is recognized in speeches, but in reality, their work is still undervalued and under-quantified9.


PREVINOBA project’s goal is to develop sustainable land use and battle against erosion.The project uses the GRAAP extension method. This method was designed to make the local people receptive and to mobilize them by bringing forth discussions between the extension officers and the locals by means of specially designed colour drawings6. This was successful as it allowed the locals to first identify their own problems and then choose development goals and management plans. PREVINOBA has the most complete awareness campaign such as radio advertisements, illustrated calendars, brochures and video tapes. They did this to create a strong community spirit that supports decisions to adopt and maintain nurseries since community cohesion is important in Senegalese society. Securing participation of women in decision-making in this project was a failure. Evidence of including women extension agents was not apparent in the project and there was a noticeable lack of women in DCSR and EF administrative position11. However, villagers in decision making have higher success. Other features that may contribute to PREVINOBA's nurseries are the emphasis on awareness and the rigorous adherence to the GRAAP extension method11. The organization of the participatory approach cycle was used in this project. In the first phase of the project, training in agroforestry techniques was followed by 170 women and 286 men. During the second phase, training was given in activities related to tree nurseries, planting, assisted natural regeneration, windbreaks, soil defense and restoration, and the conservation of water and soils. These training was affected in the villages to avoid possible difficulties posed by travelling elsewhere9. The most critical issue that this project has is the gender issues. However, PREVINOBA has been behind light change in a certain established order, without arguing the background, which have signified favourable advancement for women: land is more easily accessible to women, technical training, training in management and functional literacy are open equally to women, women gain significant incomes which are reinvested in the group or used individually, and etc9.  

The locals hold a very negative view on government interventions in the rural use of forests and the unfair economic situation6. The locals feel frustrated with the forest service because of its meticulous inspections and forcing of fines for the felling of trees or cutting of branches, although the trees were planted by the locals themselves6. The Service collects financial revenues at the expense of the farmers6. After PREVINOBA became closely associated with the service, the rural people were driven away from participating6.

File:Screen Shot 2020-12-17 at 4.59.49 PM.png#filelinks

This image shows the linkages between policy analysis, national planning and decentralized planning for rural development3


PREVINOBA is supervised by the Ministry of Rural Development and Water (MRDW) and comes under the responsibility of WFHSCD. It receives financial support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands and technical support from FAO9. It aims to find solutions to the serious ecological imbalance in the area of the groundnut basin, the country’s most favourable zone for the principal cash crop. At institutional level, an increasing number of governmental and non-governmental agencies are providing support to project-related activities through specific services that are beyond the capacity and direction of the project or the forestry department2. These services are delivered for the application of microprojects, such as health centres, functional adult literacy courses, small-scale irrigation or grain mills2. In the PREVINOBA village, the main barrier is the continual intervention, based on the forestry law and other governmental rules, of the State Forest Service. On the basis of these laws and regulations, the Forest Service not only continues to restrict access to forest reserves by the local communities, but also favours the State and outsiders at the price of the local farmers, whose rights to land, forests and trees remain insecure. With donors’ support, the government of Senegal designed forest management projects to help the newly created Rural communities oversee decentralization in the forest sector4.

File:Screen Shot 2020-12-17 at 5.21.37 PM.png

This image shows the links between the sectoral actions, specific objectives, and global objectives of the Project3


Some recommendations include the need for extra education and training in management of communal finance and assets. This means a necessity to adapt a project management planning and operation with a clear structure including: policy, strategy, laws and administrative procedure, action plans, field implementation, monitoring of progress against pre-defined indicators, evaluation of progress against policy and plans and finally revision of policy.

Adaptation of a stated owned and community managed community forestry project like Van panchayats which are the oldest examples of decentralized management in the world. Implementation of community bylaws which are decided by VP councils with input from general body. These bylaws can be reviewed in meetings held around 5 times in a year and can be enforced with fines as well in order to make sure they are respected. Bylaws will govern commercial and subsistence resource use and access. Implementation of forest department regulations as well which will be decided at the state level but enforced locally is crucial as they will provide financial oversight. It is also important to build capacity by aligning with conservation organizations in the country or internationally. This can also be done by gathering community members to protest damaging projects. Lastly, it is imperative to allow villagers to be involved in decision making again which would mean that State Forest would have to delegate and provide more opportunities for them to be able to participate. This would mean that a collaborative management relationship between foresters and villagers would be implemented through the elimination of fines and imprisonment for minor infractions such as felling of trees or cutting of branches planted by locals6.


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