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Land Degradation, Faith-Based Organizations, and Sustainability in Senegal


  • Laura L. Cochrane is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Central Michigan University; her recent book is Weaving through Islam in Senegal.


Over the past one hundred years, Senegal has experienced repeated droughts and shifting economic and agricultural policies that have contributed to long-term land degradation in a once-productive agricultural region. Faith-based organizations have become prominent in community-level projects that are working to rebuild Senegal's rural agriculture and work toward environmental sustainability. Through ethnographic interviews with religious leaders and project managers, this article highlights Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant organizations that are involved in environmental and economic development efforts across central Senegal. Local faith-based organizations are effective in this work because they are integral parts of communities, they share communities' faith-based motivations for development work, and they have long-term strategies for sustainability that involve individuals, communities, and their natural environment.

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