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Theorizing Access: Forest Profits along Senegal's Charcoal Commodity Chain


  • Jesse C. Ribot


The questions at the centre of this article are: who profits from commercial forestry, and how? Through access mapping with commodity chain analysis, this study examines the distribution of benefits from Senegal's charcoal trade and the multiple market mechanisms underpinning that distribution. Benefits from charcoal are derived from direct control over forest access, as well as through access to markets, labour opportunities, capital, and state agents and officials. Access to these arenas is based on a number of inter‐related mechanisms including legal property, social identity, social relations, coercion and information control. A commodity chain is the series of relations through which an item passes, from extraction through conversion, exchange, transport, distribution and final use. Access mapping involves evaluating the distribution of benefits along the chain, and tracing out the mechanisms by which access to benefits is maintained. It sheds light on the limited role of property, the embedded nature of markets, and the role of extra‐legal structures and mechanisms in shaping equity and efficiency in resource use. It does so in a socially situated, multi‐local manner, spanning the geographic spread of production and exchange. It also illuminates the practical issues surrounding establishment of community participation in benefits from and control over natural resources.

Suggested Citation

  • Jesse C. Ribot, 1998. "Theorizing Access: Forest Profits along Senegal's Charcoal Commodity Chain," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 29(2), pages 307-341, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:devchg:v:29:y:1998:i:2:p:307-341
    DOI: 10.1111/1467-7660.00080

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    Cited by:

    1. Clarke, Ian & Klerkx, Laurens & Ramirez, Matias, 2016. "Learning and innovation in developing economy clusters: Comparing private and non-profit intermediaries in cluster governance," Greenwich Papers in Political Economy 16712, University of Greenwich, Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre.
    2. Kibria, Abu S.M.G. & Costanza, Robert & Groves, Colin & Behie, Alison M., 2018. "The interactions between livelihood capitals and access of local communities to the forest provisioning services of the Sundarbans Mangrove Forest, Bangladesh," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 32(PA), pages 41-49.
    3. Ramcilovic-Suominen, Sabaheta & Kotilainen, Juha, 2020. "Power relations in community resilience and politics of shifting cultivation in Laos," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C).
    4. Smith, Harriet Elizabeth & Jones, Daniel & Vollmer, Frank & Baumert, Sophia & Ryan, Casey M. & Woollen, Emily & Lisboa, Sá N. & Carvalho, Mariana & Fisher, Janet A. & Luz, Ana C. & Grundy, Isla M. & P, 2019. "Urban energy transitions and rural income generation: Sustainable opportunities for rural development through charcoal production," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 237-245.
    5. Trefon, Theodore & Hendriks,Thomas & Kabuyaya, Noël & Ngoy, Balthazar, 2010. "L’économie politique de la filière du charbon de bois à Kinshasa et à Lubumbashi," IOB Working Papers 2010.03, Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy (IOB).
    6. Brobbey, Lawrence Kwabena & Hansen, Christian Pilegaard & Kyereh, Boateng & Pouliot, Mariéve, 2019. "The economic importance of charcoal to rural livelihoods: Evidence from a key charcoal-producing area in Ghana," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 19-31.
    7. Resosudarmo, Ida Aju Pradnja & Tacconi, Luca & Sloan, Sean & Hamdani, Faridh Almuhayat Uhib & Subarudi, & Alviya, Iis & Muttaqin, Muhammad Zahrul, 2019. "Indonesia's land reform: Implications for local livelihoods and climate change," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 1-1.
    8. Abrahams, Daniel, 2020. "Conflict in abundance and peacebuilding in scarcity: Challenges and opportunities in addressing climate change and conflict," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 132(C).
    9. Singh, Sukhpal, 2016. "Understanding the Role and Implications of FDI in Agri-Food Markets from a Value Chain Perspective: Case of Multi-Brand Retail Trade (MBRT) FDI in India," Conference Papers 261299, Indian Society of Agricultural Economics.
    10. Ballet, Jérôme & Bazin, Damien Jérôme Albert & Komena, Boniface K., 2020. "Unequal capabilities and natural resource management: The case of Côte d’Ivoire," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).

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