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Conditions The of Social Urban on African an Periphery Unsustainability
Susanne E. Freidberg
Dartmouth Department Geography, College of Political ecology has done much to disassemble dominantnarratives used to define, explain, and manageenvithe ronmentaldegradationin Africa. However,it has not seriouslychallenged a core assumptionof these narratives: that the "natural" environment(that is, the environmentcontainingnaturalresources)is the rural.This articlearfor a critical analysisof human-environment relationsin and aroundAfrica'scities, not simplybecauseenvigues ronmentalproblemsin these areashave been for too long neglected. Such an inquiryalso offersinsights into the and dynamicrelationshipbetween local ecological and economic change and the geographically historicallyconstructedsocial institutionsgoverningdaily production,exchange, and decision makingprocesses.Drawingon researchconducted in two marketgardeningvillages outside of Bobo-Dioulasso, BurkinaFaso, the article examines how a combinationof economic austerity certainkindsof naturalresource both have transformed and deterioration the meaningsand practicesof daily work, therebyunderminingpotentially useful relationsof collaborationand this trust,both within and beyondthe village.Morebroadly, articlearguesthat any analysisof how people cope with increasinglydifficultmaterialconditions in Africa'speri-urbanareasmust considerhow local social institutions have been shapedby a historyof close urbancontact. KeyWords: urban structural adjustment, ecology, Africa,political urban work. foodsupply, periphery,
olitical ecology has done much to disassemble the
dominant narratives used to define, explain, and manage environmental degradationin Africa. Howit has not seriously challenged a core assumption of ever, these narratives, one that underlies much of the discourse around Third World sustainable development: that the "natural" environment (that is, the environment containing natural resources) is the rural. One might argue that the "ruralbias" of Africanist political ecology has not been misrepresentative, given that most African national economies are in fact still predominantly rural and agrarian. However, as Africa's urban populations grow by 5-10 percent annually-rates as fast as those anywhere in the world (UNCHS 1996)-so too grows the need for critical, historically informed analysis of both the emerging narratives and policies concerning the African urban environment and the concrete ways in which people experience environmental change in urban areas. With the notable exception of work from South Africa (Koch 1991; Lawson 1991; Wisner 1995) political ecology has had little to say on either front. This neglect is especially striking in light of the well-documented role of urban area natural resources in providing food and fuel for African cities and supporting the livelihoods of many urban area residents. In particular, numerous studies have demonstrated that urban demand for high value, perishable foodstuffs has enabled farmers in densely set-
zonesto get by,andevenprosper, reltledperi-urban on little land (Schilter1991;Guyer1993;Mortiatively thesestudies more1993;Linares 1996).Indeed, provide evidenceof Africanfarmers' to capacity recompelling to bothinnovation inand forces, through spond market tensified (Guyer1997). These studiesalso production in urban showhowfarmers densely hinterland populated in duein partto theirinvestments soilcare,have zones, the of beenableto maintain productivity small plotsseasonafter season, after year. year Such findingscast doubt on "doomsday" scenarios leadsinthatpresume increasing that density population evitably to environmentaldegradation(Mortimore on hin1993,391). Mostof the existingresearch urban was Africa's colate terlands, however, conducted during lonial and early independence periods,when urban communities reloffered both economies nearby farming and outletsfor sellingproduce ample ativelylucrative Sincethe implementasources off-farm of employment. reform tion of structural throughadjustment programs outthe continentin the 1980s,the bright lightsof many Structural has citieshave dimmed. adjustment brought but cities not only ongoingausterity, also to Africa's heighteneduncertainty-both conditions that have to farmers reconsider comforced production, peri-urban At the same and investment mercialization, strategies. zones time,manyperi-urban agricultural arethreatened that urban by forms of environmental degradation
Annalsof theAssociation American 91(2), 2001, p. 349-369 of Geographers, ? 2001 by Association of American Geographers Publishedby Blackwell Publishers,350 Main Street, Maiden, MA 02148, and 108 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1JF, UK.
Freidberg and tional development,conservationist, scientificagencies (Roe 1991;Jamison1996). Especiallyin the case of have focusedon the sub-Saharan Africa,these narratives of ruralnaturalresourcesand its perceiveddegradation relationsto global environmentalproblems,such as climatic warmingand biodiversityloss. Africanistpolitical ecology has challengedthese narratives almost exclusively on their own turf. Its initial and ongoing contribution,of course,was to analyzethe and role of the state, the developmentindustry, national and internationalmarketforcesin drivingruralsoil erosion and deforestation(Blaikie 1985; Blaikieand Brookfield 1987;Little and Horowitz1987;MooreandVaughn 1996). Another bodyof political ecology re1994;Jarosz searchhas shown how cases of environmental"degradation" for which ruralpeople are purportedly responsible soil erosion, deforestation)have been misunder(e.g., stoodandmisrepresented (Little 1994;LeachandMearns discourses" Criticalanalysesof the "development 1996). themselves have also helped reveal the assumptions aboutruralpeople and landscapes informingmuch of the environmentalscience in Africaduringand mainstream since the colonial era (Williams1995;Leachand Mearns 1996; Cline-Cole 1998). However,very little scholarly made by Afriresearchhas taken up the point regularly can and other Third Worldattendees at majorinternational environmentalconferences:for the increasingly urbanized populationsof the ThirdWorld,threatsto the global biosphereare far less pressingconcerns than immediate threats to health and habitat, such as unclean waterand inadequatesanitation(McCamey 1995). This bias"maybe correctedas morepoliticalecologyre"rural how Africancities consumefood andfuel searchanalyzes from ruralareas(Cline-Cole 1998) as well as how they and theirown (Richardson Whitney1995;Linares produce 1996). such as the WorldBankand the United Organizations Nations have also recentlybegun to pay more attention to urbanenvironmentalproblemsworldwide.Forexample, the WorldBankmade"thehumanface of the urban environment"the title of its second annual conference on environmentallysustainabledevelopment, in 1994 (Serageldin and Cohen 1994). Two years later, the written in United Nations reportAn Urbanizing World, for the UN Habitat II Conference in Istanpreparation bul in June 1996, agreedthat "everyone of us has a stake in humanizing the face of the urban environment" (UNCHS 1996, xxii). The WorldBank'senvironmental lending prioritiesnow include a brownagendafocusing such as on threatsto publichealth and urban"livability" air pollution, inadequate waste disposal, and unsafe watersupplies.Although only a small proportionof the
planners as well as rural development programshave largelyoverlooked. This article examines how a combination of economic austerityand certainkinds of naturalresourcedeteriorationare threateningsmall-scalecommercialfood zone. Morebroadly, productionin an Africanperi-urban it arguesthat any analysisof how people cope with increasingly difficult material conditions in these zones must examine how social relationsof production,distribution, and consumptionhave been shapedby a history of close urbancontact. I approachthis history through an analysisof the changingmeaningsof workin two vilBurkinaFaso'sseclages just outside of Bobo-Dioulasso, ond largest city. For many of the men and women in these villages,workfor severalmonths a yearcenters on the production and commercialization, respectively,of These activitiesare importantsources gardenvegetables. income (now crucialto the food secuof both dry-season of many households) and occupationaland gender rity identity.They are also the activities throughwhich men and women have most directly experienced economic and ecological decline. I intend to show how proximity to the city has not only definedthe specializednatureof these villagers' livelihoods, and the specific material threats they face, but also fostered the atomizationof daily work and thus, in this particularcase, the breakdown of potentiallyusefulrelationsof collaborationand trustboth within and beyondthe village. The articleproceedsas follows.The followingsection the brieflydiscusses historicallyruralorientationof political ecology and selectively reviews the scholarly and policy-makingliteratureon Africanurbanenvironmental problemsand urban area food production.Next, I drawon two long-termNigeriancase studiesto construct a typology of "close-settled"(Mortimore and Wilson 1965) urban area agricultural zones, and then explain how an analytical focus on the changing meanings of work provides useful insights into the social dynamics of sustainability(or lack thereof) in these zones. The body of the article then presentsthe resultsof research carriedout in the Bobo-Dioulasso region in 1993-1994.
In part,political ecology'sneglect of the urbanenvironment reflectsits originsin the fieldsof ruralcultural studies;in part,it reflectsits targets. ecology and agrarian In other words,a definingpurposeof political ecologyresearchover the past severalyearshas been to challenge the "dominant narratives" ThirdWorldenvironmenon tal problems,as articulatedby a wide varietyof intera-
Gardeningon the Edge WorldBank'surbanenvironmentallending goes to subSaharan Africa, several countries-including Ghana, Togo, BurkinaFaso, and South Africa-have received multimilliondollarloans fromit for urbanenvironmental managementor "clean-up" programs(World Bank 1996). It is too early to assessthe effectivenessof these programs,but it is clear that any changesin the qualityand availabilityof urbanareanaturalresources-for betteror for worse-will have consequencesnot only for urban but "livability" alsoforurbanlivelihoodsand,ultimately, urbanfood security.In addition to the crops,fruit trees, and livestock raised in urban residential courtyards, roadsidegullies, and vacant lots, many African cities have long dependedon their intensivelycultivatedhinof terlandsfor an importantproportion theirfood supply, for perishablefoods. Many studieshave docuespecially mented the history and productivityof these "garden belts" (see, for example, Vennetier 1972, 1977, 1989, 1993;Guyer1987), while morerecent workexploresthe contributionsof urbanarea agricultureto urbanbiodiversity and social life (Linares 1996). However, few studies have explicitly analyzedhow urban proximity kinds of threats to agrarian liveliboth poses particular hoods and potentiallyshapesthe wayspeople cope with those threats. Existingresearchdoes show that innovation and sustained high productivity in peri-urbanfarm areas has been at least partly motivated and made possible by strong urbandemand for "European" gardencrops and other fresh, relatively costly foodstuffsassociatedwith the urbandiet (Resquier-Desjardins 1986). Farmers getting high returnsfromthese cropshave been willing and able to invest in the ongoing productivityof their land. However, strong demand for the high-value foodstuffs producedin Africanurbangardenbelts can no longerbe assumed.In many countries, structuraladjustmentausterity measureshave erodedurbanbuyingpower,raised farmers' productioncosts, and drivenmore and moreurfood productionin effortsto genbanitesinto small-scale erate income and cut their own food costs (DrakakisSmith 1991; Clark 1994). In other words,when Africa's city-dwellersare told to "tightentheir belts,"peri-urban commercialfarmersalso feel the squeeze.When urban for markets remaindepressed years(as has often been the case in countries undertakingSAPs; see Walton and Seddon 1994), livelihood strategiesthat once seemed economicallyand socially rewarding may have to be reassessed modified,if not abandonedaltogether.Such and reassessments likely to affect how people work toare as well as how they invest in the maintenanceof gether, resource base. and both localsocialinstitutions the natural
In the next section of this article,two long-termNigerian case studies will show just how closely the livelizones in hoods of commercialfood producers peri-urban are linked, for better or worse,to the dynamismof urban markets.These case studies also suggestthat, although such livelihoods are not necessarilyheaded for a neoMalthusiandemise, their sustainabilitydepends on the existence of certain social as well as economic and ecological conditions.
Dynamism and Intensification on Africa's Urban Peripheries
Labor-IntensiveSustainability Michael Mortimore's study of Hausavillage communities in the densely populated countryside north of Kano, the largestcity in northernNigeria, spansthe period between 1964 and 1986 (Mortimoreand Wilson 1965; Mortimore1993, 1995). This periodencompasses cities and the oil boom yearsof the 1970s,when Nigeria's overalleconomyexperiencedextraordinary growthrates. Still, the agricultural practicesand householdeconomic observedwerenot unlikethose that Mortimore strategies communitieselsewherein Africa.In found in peri-urban addition, they were affected by climatic patterns felt throughoutthe Sahel between the late 1960s and mid1980s-namely, periodicdroughtand a gradualdecline in annualrainfall(Mortimore1998, chapter2). zone as Mortimore(1965) defined Kano'speri-urban 30 an areaextending approximately km fromthe city, or about as far as it is possibleto travel in a day by foot or donkey. In the early 1960s, population density in this zone was an estimated250/km2; the late 1980s, it was by estimatedto have doubled.This zone occupiespart of a broaderclose-settled zone, extending 65 to 95 kilometers whereaveragepopulationdensitywassomewhatless out, than in the inner ring but considerablymore than in ruralnorthernNigeria. zone was alreadyunder Arable land in the peri-urban constant cultivation in the 1960s. Although dry-land farmingwas limited to the rainyseason,lowland (orfadwas ama) agriculture perennialand orientedtowardsthe production of commercialhorticulturalcrops. Fadama landholdingswere small-a tenth of a hectare or lessfields.Dry-season thanupland butfourtimesmorevaluable due was labor-intensive, productionon these smallplots in part to the time and effort requiredfor drawingwell water.The majorityof farminghouseholds in the perithis urbancommunities during timewerenot self-sufficient in grain. Money to buy food came from sales of crops
Freidberg oil boom did so in responseto improvedtransportation and strongurbandemandforcassava(Guyer1997, chapter 9). Even after the boom ended, both women and young men continued to take up food farmingbecause, given that urbanfood priceswere still high, it appeared the best route to security,if not necessarily prosperity. Guyer (1997) also examined village crop specialization in the Ibadanhinterland. All the villages in the study increasedproductionof high-demandcrops;they also each becameincreasingly specializedin the cropsfor which they were best known, in orderto assureregular visits fromlarge-scale buyers.This observationis imporcomtant becauseit demonstrates that, while peri-urban marketgardeningespecially) is mercialagriculture (and than staple food in many ways more "individualistic" production, an individual farmer'saccess to markets often depends at least partlyon village-level coordination. The sameis true (althoughGuyerdoes not mention accessto state or nongovit explicitly) of villagefarmers' credit and technical ernmental organization-provided assistance:membershipin a producers'cooperative or or other village groupis often necessary, at least helpful. farmers commercial of In short,the willingness small-scale or decisions with their to coordinate certain activities neighborscan pay off, by bringingtheir village or region more businessand greaterrecognition.As Guyer (1997, 173) notes, "thehistoricalprocessof local concentration on a narrowspectrumof cropsis not only shapedby ecological suitability;it reflectsa collective investment in This article will make clear,however, that reputation." communities'willingnessto makesuch collective village investmentscannot be taken for granted. studies Togetherwith a numberof other shorter-term (Raynaut 1969; Vennetier 1972, 1977, 1989; Freeman and 1991; Egziabher1995; Linares 1996), Mortimore's in research Nigeriashowsthat Africanperi-urban Guyer's zones share a numberof generalcharacterisagriculture tics. First,comparedto ruralareas,populationdensity in them is high and typicallyincreasingmore rapidlythan that elsewhere.Second, landholdingsareoften too small in to providefor householdself-sufficiency grainsupplies in more distant urban (this is not necessarilythe case hinterlands);partlyfor that reason,householdand even individualsourcesof income tend to be highly diversified.Third,commercial productionon verysmallplotssometimes 1/10 ha or less-is often an important,even primarysource of income for households in peri-urban areas.Fourth,land-useregulationsin these areasmay be ineffectualor nonexistent, and land tenurerightsambiguousand contested.Under such conditions,the stewardis ship of land in fragileareas,such as riverbanks, by no In meansguaranteed. some cases,local effortsat steward-
grownon fadamaland, as well as fromhouseholdmembers'off-farmoccupations.Not surprisingly, households in the communitiesclosest to Kano (10 km or less) had the smallest and most intensively cultivated landholdincome. ings and dependedthe most on off-farm Two decades later, urban residential neighborhoods had spreadto parts of the peri-urbanzone, creating a of "mosaic" land-usepatterns.In the areasstill devoted to agriculture, farmingmethodshad changed little, and yields of most crops remained relatively stable except duringyearsof severedrought.Although soil fertilityon uplandfieldswas not tested, Mortimore(1993) emphasizedthat, by the 1980s, fieldsin this zone had been manuredand annuallycultivatedfor at least a century,with no observablelong-term decline in yields. Despite the enormousurban demand for fuelwood, tree density in the peri-urban becausetrees zone had actuallyincreased, there werevaluedand protectedby their owners planted (Mortimore 1993, 374-75). As before, household incomes werehighly diversified. Mortimore's studyshowed that, althoughsmall landholders in the peri-urban zone certainlydid not live off was worth enough to them in farmingalone, farming termsof the food, income, and socialstatusit providedto justifyongoing investmentsof labor and capital. These investments helped maintain relatively stable yields, the inthat under right economic conditions, demonstrating tensive agriculturein densely settled urbanhinterland regions can be and has been sustainedfor generations. Such conditionsincludenot only the proximityof strong markets,but also the availabilityof farmlabor and offfarmemployment. Niche Dynamism Also in Nigeria, Jane Guyer (1997) traced agrarian change in the "hinterland supplyarea"of Ibadan,Nigeria'ssecond largestcity, between 1968 and 1988. Her researchfocusedon Idere,a smallYoruba town 60 km from the city. Although at this distance the town was not directlyaffectedby urbanpollutionor residentialsprawl,it was closely linked to urbanmarkets,and it saw a significant increase in both commercialproduction and demandfor farmland, especiallyduringthe oil boom. Both increaseswere driven not only by in-migrationand naturalpopulationgrowth,but also by the new or expanded urbanretirfarmingactivities of corporateagribusiness, ees, and, above all, women. Guyer'suse of life histories providesinsightsinto the social and materialconditions that informedpeople's decisions about farmingduring the study period. For example, these accounts showed that manyof the women who took up farmingduringthe
Gardeningon the Edge ship may be underminedby pollution, erosive run-off patterns,or other environmentalproblemsgeneratedin nearby urban areas. Finally, while peri-urbanfarming householdsmaydependlessdirectlyon the marketeconomy for survival than do landless city-dwellers, their farminglivelihoods are very clearlyaffectedby changes in urbanconsumerdemandand labormarkets. In materialterms,then, peri-urban zones agricultural a unique space, in that they are simultaneously occupy sustainedand imperiledby the dynamicsof the urban the economy.However,simplyanalyzing economic linkzoneswill not reagesbetweenthe city and its peripheral veal much abouthow urbanproximityhas shapedlivelihoods in the latter.Nor will such an analysisadequately livelihoods in such zones explain how and why agrarian might or might not be sustainedin the face of risingpopulation density.To answerthese questions,we must also examine how the local social institutions organizing daily production, exchange, and decision-makingprocesses have themselves been shapedby people'sexperiences living close to a city. In any particular peri-urban such institutions include (but are not limcommunity, ited to) the residential household, marriage,the kin laborexchange groups,margroup,age or gender-based keting cooperatives,rotatingcreditassociations,and the variouslegal and normativecodes regulatingtrade,employment, and credit relationsboth within and beyond the community.As illustratedby historian Sara Berry's workson Africanagrarian change,such institutionshave not only "shapedstrategies of agriculturalproduction and investment; [they] have been affected, in turn, by farmers' patternsof resourceuse"(Berry1989, 41; 1993). This dynamic relationshipbetween economic practices and the meaningsand formsof social institutionsis emof beddedin, and thus actingupon, the specificities place and location. Precisely how is an empirical question (Massey1994).
MaterialChangeand the Meaningsof Work
The methodologicalchallengehere is to identifya cothe herent meansof analyzingand representing dynamic relationship among practice, place, and culturally informedsocial institutionsover time. Although the social on science literature institutionsis now quitesubstantial, is largelyabsent from most analyses.1 This article place will focus on the changing practices and meanings of work in order to understandhow individuals, households, and communities have experienced ecological and economic change on an urbanperiphery. Moreover, it will demonstratehow these experiences,like work it-
Forsyth,and self, arenot only place-specific(Batterbury, but also shaped by age, gender, and Thomson 1997) socioeconomic status(Freidberg 1996a). in The analysisof changing workpractices two periurban villages shows how external changes of varying water shiftsin upstream scale and speed-such as gradual sudden market use and run-off patterns, and relatively downturnsbroughton by national-level economic austerity measures-have influenceddaily uses of time and materialresources,as well as the social organizationof productionand distribution.Some of these changes in practices are common to peri-urbanzones and other areasof rapidlyincreasingpopulationdensity.The shift laborprotowardssmallerplots and more individualized for example, has been widely documented cesses, and (Turner, Hyden, and Kates 1993; Bilsborrow Geores 1994; Tiffen, Gichuki, and Mortimore1994). However, alone cannot explain the specific pressures demographic and consequencesof such trends. Rather,a trajectories of thoroughunderstanding how peopleworkwith changing materialconditions,in waysthat mayor maynot sustain their existing livelihoodsand resourcebase,requires a more holistic definition and analysisof work itself. To borrowa popularterm, work is about "makinga living," and in that sense it takes on many meanings (Wallman 1979; Godelier 1980; Feeley-Hamik1987;Joyce 1987). The analysishere focuseson three of these. First,work means duty. Individualsperformlabor in orderto fulfill their varioussocial roles as, for example, spouses,parents,children, and employees.Each role involves not just responsibilitiesbut also rights, both of which define access to resourcesas well as the social organizationof the laborprocess(Carey and Watts 1990). Equallyimportant,norms about rights and responsibilisocial context asties define how people in a particular sess and value each other'swork.For example, in every condition society norms about maternalresponsibilities towards(and definitions of) "women'swork." attitudes Through what experiences, in and beyond the workplace, do these normsemergeand change?How do normative shifts in turnlead to broader changesin the practices and social organization of daily work? A key researchobjective in this studywas to identifythe relationshipbetween specificchangesin the materialconditions of workand the ongoing (and often contested) redefinitionof specifickindsof "customary" duties,such as fortheirhouseholds. the dutyof seniormento provide grain and Workin the second sense meansoccupation, thus servesas a sourceof identity.Fewhistoricalstudiesof the meaningsof workhave examinedoccupationalidentities in agrarian societies, the assumption being that peasants' are neither highly specializednor sepalabor processes
Freidberg and rial living standards dependenceon the urbanmarket economy.Although inexact, most peoples'accounts of how they spent their past and present earningswere morerevealing(and readilyrevealed)than figmarkedly ureson the earningsthemselves.Second, these questions relationshipbetween helped illuminatethe multilayered consumptionand productionpractices.In other words, even at its mostbasiclevel-eating-sustains consumption not only the labor force but also a range of social relations among those who "sharethe same bowl"(Robertson 1984). In turn, these relationshipsare often crucial to the viability of certain labor processesand, indeed, certain livelihoods (Weismantel 1991; Clark 1994). Third, questionsabout consumptionshed light on local standardsof "the good life." Clearly these standards change; in contemporaryAfrica they have arguably changed most dramaticallyin and aroundurban areas, where materialwealth is most apparentand public services typicallymost accessible. However,dailyearningsthe returnsto daily work-have also changed. Yearsof economic stagnationand austerityhave left manylivelihoods less remunerativerelative to the cost of living. This is especially true of the numerous occupations (among them commercialvegetablegardening)that depend on urbanconsumershaving a modicumof "disposable"income. Many of the men and women interviewed in this studyperceiveda directrelationshipbetween the deterioration of urbandemand and the deteriorationof their This materialdecline had own materialliving standards. social consequences.Forexample,manymale household heads noted that their declining incomes as gardeners made it more difficultnot only to pay for staple foods, school fees and so forth, but also to displaygenerosityforexample,by giving theirwives and childrenthe traditional holiday gift of fine cloth, or throwinglavish holiday festivals.Although not essential to their immediate survival,these formsof consumptionand redistribution bonds servedto reinforcethe intra- and extrahousehold reliedupon both of loyaltyand obligationthat gardeners to accomplishtheir day-to-dayworkand to pull through periodsof hardship.In other words,the decline of these consumption practices had potentially direct conseof quencesfor the sustainability gardeninglivelihoods. In sum, deterioratingeconomic and environmental in conditionshave mademarketgardening the peri-urban moredifficultand less remunerazone of Bobo-Dioulasso tive. By analyzinghow these material difficultiesalso changed the meanings of work (as a duty, a source of identity, and a means of supportingconsumption) this study shows how, in two villages, such changes undermined the social basisof sustainablemarketgardening.
ratedfromother aspectsof daily existence. In West Africa, however, many predominantlyagrariansocieties have long been incorporatedinto regional and longdistancetradenetworks,and their culturalnormsclearly define the skills and social status defining occupations such as vegetabletrader, cocoa farmer, weaver.Moreor over, Africa'scolonial economies very quicklyproduced additional identitiesin both urban specialized occupational areas(Atkins 1993;Harries andrural 1994;Cooper1995). In the Bobo-Dioulasso region,for example,the occubecamea pro(commercialgardener) pation of maraicher fessional category recognizedon official identity cards. More substantively, became a professionthat drewon it but also drewvillagersmoredeeplyinto skills, customary the expandingurban-based monetaryeconomy as both and of producers consumers commoditiesassociatedwith moder urban living.2 It also eventually became a distinctly male occupation,but one that often dependedon female household membersfor assistancewith commercialization(Freidberg 2001). Finally,becausedry season commercialgardening feasibleonly on riversides was and it becamean occupationassociatedwith parfloodplains, ticularvillages. In these villages, other specializedoccupations developed aroundthe gardensand the income they generated-for example,manywomenbecamevegetable wholesalers. Over time, marketgardeninghas become not only a much more common but also a harderand less lucrative occupation than it used to be. One importantconsequence of this change is that, in the villages examined here, gardening is no longer an occupation to which Instead,mostsee it as an incomemanyyoungmen aspire. earning activity they would ratherpractice temporarily or part-time,if at all. This attitude in turn affects individual,household,and communitywillingnessto invest in sustainability. contrast,the relativewealth and auBy tonomy associatedwith women'svegetable wholesaling has not only reinforcedthe commitment and relative solidarityof established wholesalers, it has also made their occupationan attractivegoal of many marketgardeners'wives, which in turn has affected their willingness to workfor their husbands. Thirdand last, this analysisexaminesthe meaningsof workin relationto consumption(Rutzand Orlove 1989; Fine and Leopold1993). In other words,if workis about "makinga living," what standardof living does it support?How well does it allow people to meet their daily needs and long-termgoals and to achieve, by local standards, the "good life?" Questions about consumption practicesserved three purposes.First,they providedinsights into both historicalchange and intravillage(and to a certain extent intrahousehold)differencesin mate-
Gardeningon the Edge
Gardens on the Edge
Research Site and Methods This article draws on field research conducted in and around Bobo-Dioulasso, the second largest city in Burkina Faso (pop. 400,000) (Figure 1). "Bobo" lies in the Sudanic savanna climatic zone of West Africa, and receives approximately 1100 mm of rainfall annually
(comparedto 600 or less in the north of the country). The close-settled zone, defined by a higher population densitythan neighboringruralareasand the daily urban commutepatternsof its residents,extendsapproximately 20-25 km out fromthe city. The riverHouet originates froma springseveralkilometersto the southeastof BoboDioulassoand runs through the center of town. To the north, the Houet and the riverKouprovidewaterfor the close-settledzone's"garden belt,"where men (and occa-
Figure 1. BurkinaFaso.
Freidberg undertakencontract relations with growersin several villages furtherout in the Bobo-Dioulassoclose-settled zone. These exportoperationswerefraughtwith difficulties, but they did offerwhat many growerssay they desmarkets peratelyneed: accessto biggerandhigher-priced 1996b, 1997). The exporters' explanationsof (Freidberg why they chose to work with particularvillages and in growersindicatedthat gardeners Sakabyand Dogona were not well positioned, either geographicallyor socially,to participatein contractedexportproduction. "The Cultivating People" Although the population of the Bobo-Dioulassorehousegion is ethnicallydiverse,nearlyall the gardening holds in Sakabyand Dogonaidentifythemselvesas Bobo or, if they are Muslim, as Bobo-Dioula.6 Except for the small blacksmithand griot castes, most Bobo have historicallydefinedthemselvesas the san-san,the "cultivating people" (Sanou 1990). At the turn of the century, grainproductionon common patrilineageland provided the primarymeans of sustenance for lineage members and the materialbasis of authorityfor male elders. Although reliable information about precolonial gender roles in agricultureis scarce, it is clear that men and women both cultivated-sometimes alongsidekin members, sometimes with membersof their age sets during periodic work parties. Unlike those in parts of Africa to sometimesreferred as the "femalefarmbelt"(Boserup 1970), however,Bobo womenhave not historicallybeen for expectedto assumemajoror even equalresponsibility the productionof staple foods (as opposed to complementaryfoods) as long as male labor is available.Partly due to the influenceof Islamon Bobo genderideologies, especially in villages near Bobo-Dioulasso,male household heads often seek to minimize-in fact or at least in appearance-the participationof their wives and kinswomen in household agricultural production(Freidberg 2001). However,women were and are expected to participate in seeding, due to their symbolic association and with fertility,and to prepare carrymealsto the fields (Saul 1991). During the rainy season, most able-bodied lineage membersare expected to devote five daysa week to cultivation of a commonplot. In principle,both womenand junior men also have usufructrights to private plots, though women have generally not had access to land along the river.In the past, private plots were planted with cropssuitablefor eithertradeor home consumption, suchas groundpeas, tobacco,andsorghum beans,peppers, beerbrewing).Today,the typesand usesof the crops (for planted on drylandplots still vary,but riversideland is
sionally women) from dozens of villages cultivate dry season riversideand floodplainvegetablesplots, primamarket(Sanou 1989). rilyfor the Bobo-Dioulasso The two gardening villagesfeaturedin this study,Sakand Dogona, lie just five kilometersfromthe center aby on of Bobo-Dioulasso, adjacentsides of the Houet (Figures 2, 3). Although they differin some ways-most of are Dogona'smarketgardeners Muslim,whereasSakaby's aremostlyCatholic-the two villages'differences matter less for the purposes this articlethan do their similariof ties. In particular, close neighborsthey share a long as and relatively well documented history in commercial as gardening,3 well as a common set of ecological problems. Both Sakabyand Dogona are also now officiallya part of the municipality of Bobo-Dioulasso,meaning that censusdata on them is unavailable.However,even as rezoning and urban residentialgrowth have blurred the boundaries between the city and the villages,the latter still have architecturally distinct"oldquarters" where of the descendants the villages'founders live. These longtime residentsinvariablyidentifythemselvesas villagers ratherthan city-dwellers. Gardeningin Sakabyand Dogan ona is primarily occupationof men fromthesefounding families, as they have customaryrights to the riverside land. By contrast,in more remotecommercialgardening sitesin the Bobo-Dioulasso mostif not all the hinterlands, arefirst-or second-generation growers migrants. Fieldworkin Sakabyand Dogona relied primarily on semistructured interviews women,men, and adolescent of children in fifty households4that a preliminarysurvey had identifiedas having at least one memberactivelyenDiscussioncenteredfor the gaged in marketgardening.5 most parton work:what people did, how long they had been doing it, with what kinds of laborand materialreintersources,and towardswhat ends. I was particularly estedin different accounts how andwhyintra-andextraof household relations of productionand distributionhad changedover time. In additionto the interviewswith active participantsin marketgardening,in-depth, openended interviews with twenty-two village elders provided historical informationon the villages themselves as well on their participationin commercialgardening. The relevant findingsfrom this village-basedfieldwork arepresentedin a summary, narrativeform. A laterphaseof fieldwork, basedin Bobo-Dioulasso itfocused on the local, regional, and export trade in self, gardenvegetables.Interviewswith women retailersand wholesalersat two urbanmarketplaces providedinsights into the local historyandcontemporary "gender politics" of food, cooking, and mealtimes.I also conductedinterviews with a smallnumberof local, relativelylarge-scale of exporters freshfruitsand vegetables,who had recently
Gardeningon the Edge
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Gardeningon the Edge nearly always devoted to "European" garden vegetables. Accordingto Bobocustom,the personwith current use rightsto a plot also has rightsto any income fromthe sale of its produce.By contrast,the millet producedon common fieldsis controlledand distributed male linby in eageheads.Earlier the twentiethcentury, manylineages in this regionwere more than self-sufficient grainproin in duction, and lineage elders storedthe surpluses their for emergencies, and ceremonialfeasts.To granaries gifts, have several full granariesdemonstratedan elder'scait pacityto recruitlaboranddisplaygenerosity; showedhe enjoyedwealthandpower(Le Moal 1980). Besides the obvious value of abundant production, skill and industriousness the field traditionally in earned men of any age high esteem. The Bobo respected the farmer who increased yields through labor-intensive techniquessuch as carefulweeding,mounding,and ridging (Saul 1993). The use of such methodsoften reflected a farmer's wealth of familylabor,but agricultural skillprowess,of sorts-was valued even in young unmarried men. It provedtheir strength,their abilityto providefor One admittedly a futurefamily,even theiroccult power.7 account of the precolonialperiodnotes that a nostalgic man did not need to be handsometo find a wife; "work was the only consideration"(Gnankambary 1970, 58). Bobo eldersrecallmen who succeededduringthe Today, earlyyearsof marketgardeningsimplyby workingincessantly "dayand night."Among the youngergeneration, men's demonstratedstrength and skill in farming (instill but respect, few believe cludinggardening) commands that these qualitiesalone areenoughto assureindividual commercialsuccess.Indeed,the fact that hardworkand skill now seem to count for relativelylittle contributesto many gardeners'bitterness about their own economic circumstances. One central meaningof marketgardening,therefore, has been the statusattachedto the achievementsof indiIn vidualgardeners. addition,the monetaryvalue of market gardening,both actual and anticipated,has figured in importantly the ongoingrenegotiationof intragenerational authorityrelations.In the Bobo systemof dualdescent, male and female elders historically controlled most of the wealth, as well as the inheritanceand marof riagearrangements both theirpatrilinealand matrilineal kin.8 Until the midcolonial period, this oligarchic concentrationof wealth and powerboth reinforcedand wasreinforced the elders'abilityto securelaborfor agby riculturalproductionand, in the case of women, group the activities(Saul1992).However, introduction gathering of new sourcesof cash income-first militaryserviceand later trade and employment in the civil service or the avenuesfor Catholic Mission-broadened the "off-farm"
and accumulation achievement, especiallyfor young colonialism men (Saul 1986). In otherwords, brought into but notonlynewactivities alsonewmeanings work, in earlier life. of thepossibility economic autonomy cluding over lose did Theelders notnecessarily authority their their labordid becomemore but offspring, retaining and In challenging. late colonialSakaby Dogona,the land-which commale elders'controlover riverside had made newly valuable-helped mercialgardening whenthey the sonsin the villageduring dryseason keep in townor the C6te havesoughtwork mightotherwise and Adolescent youngadultmenknewthat if d'Ivoire. not in worked theirfathers' they gardens would only they also needsprovided theywould havetheirimmediate for, as a plot of theirown. Nonetheless, receive eventually will becomeclearbelow,the decliningeconomicand in of conditions market gardening the 1980s ecological for to of the not onlyundermined ability fathers provide needsof theirsons(orotherdependents), the immediate of the into it alsothrew question future market gardening for asa viablelivelihood theirsons.Forbothgenerations, a sons'laborin the fathers' appeared gardens retaining economic secuor lesssurerouteto eitherpresent future for rity.As youngmen lookedelsewhere suchsecurity, the fathers' gardens-as sites of dailyworkand forms of patrilineal property-no longerservedto reproduce relations. authority intragenerational MoreWork LessWater, on to Contrary whatrecentUnitedNationsreports in worldwide trends peri-urban mightsuggest agriculture (Smit 1996; FAO 1999) neither urbandevelopment nor pose pressures a directthreat planning land-market in to commercial gardening Sakabyand Dogona.AlFaso of the government Burkina nowenthough current it landtitling(Gray official forthcoming), still courages claims.Such claimsare disputed customary recognizes and the throughout country often end up in the court landsof Sakaby to but rights the riverine system, lineage and Dogona-like those in otherareasthat have been of or inhabited cultivated members the by continually werefirstcleared-are rarely samelineagessince they
challenged.9 of the Moreover, municipal government Bobo-Dioulasso land and surrounding the has designated riverside villages north of the city as a protectedzonemaraichere (market reflects of status the gardens zone).The protected gardening of the Bobo-Dioulasso relatively Department Urbanism's considerations environmental to recentefforts incorporate de into its urban growthplanning(Ministere l'equipement the It alsoreflects long-standing 1992). politicalandsocial
Freidberg water in the earlymorning those today.Now, gardeners and again in the late afternoon,and duringthe hottest partsof March and April they may even have to water use three timesdaily.Althoughsomegardeners motorized to pull water out of the river into small holding pumps pools, most cannot affordto buy these petrol-powered machines,much less run and maintainthem, and so instead use large watering cans. All agree that hauling waterby hand out of the gullyforhourseach day is much workof rainyseason morestrenuousthan the day-to-day graincultivation,and too hardfor manyoldermen to do at all. In short,this is an environmentalproblemthey experiencedaily and veryphysically. It is also a problemunlikely to be addressed anytime soon, given the priorities of the state and its foreign and financiers (Marcussen Speirs1998). Althougha number of urbaninfrastructure projectsin Burkinahave received fundingfrom the World Bank and other donors over the past severalyears,most have taken place in the capital city, Ouagadougou(Jaglin 1994). At the local level, the Bobo-Dioulasso Ministryof Urbanismhas published documents acknowledging erosion along the banks of the Houet (Ministerede l'equipement1992). However, this is clearly not its most pressingenvironmentalconcern;derelictwaterlines, abysmal roads,haphazardwaste disposal, and industrialpollution all pose more immediatethreats to public health and safety,as well as to the city'seffortsto encourageinvestment and tourism. At the regional and national level, soil and waterconservationprograms-many of them fundedby the World Bank and the Caisse Francaise-are focused on projectsin ruralareas,manyof them plannedand implemented at the village level (Batterbury1994; Gray forthcoming). A second kind of environmentalchange in Sakaby and Dogona,especiallynoticeableto the oldergardeners, is the land'sdeclining capacityto producecertain vegetables.Forexample,yields of tomatoes,once considered an easyand often lucrativecrop,arenow so poorthat few even plant them. A local plant epidemiologist gardeners who paid a briefvisit to the Sakabygardensin 1994 said a this was "probably" case of long-neglectedsoil diseases, but neither he nor any of his colleaguesat a nearbyagriculturalresearchstation had actually inspected the soil conditions in the peri-urban gardensin recent memory. station both the research This neglect is itselfsignificant: horticultural have andthe provincialagricultural ministry specialistson staff, and the Bobo-Dioulassoregion has the longbeenconsidered nationalcenterforvegetable-crop research and extension services (D'Arondel de Hayes and Huyez1972). However,local expertiseis focusedon the marketgardeningsites fartherfrom the city, where
prominenceof the lineagesthat foundedBobo-Dioulasso and surrounding villages. In Sakabyand Dogona, more and more residents are seeking formal title to-and sometimesselling-their drylandholdings, which are a few kilometersawayfrom the villages themselves.As of the mid-1990s,however,few villagershad soughttitle for their gardens,and in fact one man who had was viewed with suspicion.10 Elders of Sakaby and Dogona made clear that they would disapproveeven more stronglyof any salesof gardenland, which holds considerablesymof bolic value, regardless the revenueit generates."1 In other words,the threatsto marketgardeninglivelihoods in these villages are more creeping and diffuse than the threatof land loss throughseizureor forcedsale. have The deteriorating ecologicalconditions,in particular, and of been gradual, they affectdifferent members the village communitiesin differentways.Some, but not all of theseecologicalchangesaredirecteffectsof urbanization. Forthe men tending gardensin Sakabyand Dogona, the poor water supplyposes the most consistent hardship day to day.The water table, which once filled the village wells and kept the garden soils damp, has dropped,and the river Houet has dug itself into a deep have two explanations steep--sided gully.The gardeners for both phenomena: first, it rains less than in years past, and second, more people upstreamare suckingthe river dry.Annual rainfall since the mid-1960s has declined somewhat (Laclavere 1993), and certainly the number of households, farms and industries drawing water from the Houet has increased (Bobo-Dioulasso's annual growth rate is 7.2 percent). However, these trends alone do not explain the gullied river,which is primarilya consequence of the changing run-off patterns that have come with urbanization.In particular, run-off from intense rainy season storms flows quickly down Bobo-Dioulasso'sstreets, lightly vegetated open spaces,and drainageditches into the Houet, helping to create an erosive torrent. Whereassome villages in the close-settledzone have abandoneddry season gardeningaltogether due to the in dropin the watertable,the problemforgardeners Sakaby and Dogona is not absolutescarcity,but ratherthe enormousamount of time and effortthey now must devote to watering their vegetables. Their views of this workare very much shapedby referenceto the past. Eldersin these villagesrecallthat when they firstbegandry season gardening,the soil stayed damp longer and the Houet ran higher, so watering amounted to nothing more difficultthan tossing gourdsof waterdirectlyfrom the river onto the crops every two or three days. Their memoriesmay be colored by nostalgia,but they do describe dramaticallydifferent conditions of work than
Gardeningon the Edge
and plotstend to be larger the potentialfor expansion andintensification deemed greater. A thirdformof environmental one change, especially to women, is the loss of trees and shrubs important to the throughout urbanhinterland.Compared the is Bobo's still a close-settled around zone Ouagadougou, verdant of forestsand patchwork smallstate-protected certainusefulspecieshave However, privateorchards. who become to scarcer, noticeably according the women wild food, have long depended them for fuelwood, on As andmedicinal bothto useandto sell.12 in the plants, this translates morework-in this into gardens, scarcity into havesimcase,longer forays thebush.Somewomen andnowbuy activities plygivenupgathering altogether all theirprovisions the city's in marketplaces. of So the mostpressing environmental problems periurban villagers-theonesthatforcethemto work longer in part andharder evento maintain same the yields-are to attributable climatic trends in partto inadequate and to soilcare, theyarealso much but related urbanization. very are conditions alwayschanging Clearlyenvironmental for well loonewayoranother, oftentimes reasons beyond is what cal control. the Therefore keyempirical question do are thesechanges, howtheiractions and people about and by historically shaped (andin somesenseshaping) and relations power production. of constituted culturally In Sakaby Dogona,people's and actions,as muchas the environmental problemsthemselves,have been to studies shaped theirrelationship the city.Whereas by to of otherperi-urban havefoundproximity urban areas markets accessto urban and advantageous employment for smallholder communities-crucial, sometimes,to has theirstaying the land-in this casethe opposite on proventrue. In Sakabyand Dogona,individualand household over the pasttwo decades copingstrategies which haveundermined socialinstitutions the through in thisregion mobilized wide a havehistorically villagers of and whichmarket gardeners variety resources, through to in particular theircommitment their have affirmed in work. Theseinstitutions widely scaleandformality, vary fromthe customs intrahousehold as of gift-giving a form to creditrelationships of laborcompensation long-term between and to farmers traders state-sanctioned marketing of The cooperatives. weakening theseinstitutions-and of the concomitant atomization dailywork-both reflectsand,I believe,contributes the deteriorating to ecoIn nomicand ecological viabilityof market gardening. of otherwords, undermines localsocialconditions it the that motivateandenable the sustainability: conditions peopleof a particular localityto takeactionsin defense illustrates ofparticular livelihoods. restof the article The of Aftera briefoverview the boomand this argument.
near-bustof marketgardeningin Sakabyand Dogona, I of betweenprocesses materialdediscussthe relationship cline and the degenerationof several distinct, though social institutions. overlapping, SaladDays The referencepoint of decline for the villagersis the periodjust afterWorldWarII until aboutthe mid-1960s, referto as the "honeymoon a periodsomeoldergardeners The colonial agricultural ministryintroducedthe years." intensivegardening cropsand methodsof European-style to the areain the 1920sasa formof compulsory cultivation, intended mainly to provision the dinner tables of local In French administrators. fact, Sakaby was home to a small forced-laborvegetable plantation, known eupheOnly after the official publique.13 misticallyas the jardin laborin 1946weremen in Sakaby abolitionof compulsory and Dogona able to take advantageof the specialized skillsthey had been forcedto acquireand become the remarketgardeners. gion'sfirst"professional" on reliedprimarily sons and nephews These gardeners to help them in their gardens.(Although duringthese earlyyearsat least some women helped watertheir husbands'or fathers'gardens,they soon withdrewfromthis task and instead took over the marketingof household As gardenproduce.14) compensation,it was understood that sons would eventuallyreceive a gardenplot of their On own, usuallyat marriage. dayswomen took theirhusbands' or kinsmen'sproduce to market, they were alon lowedto spendsomeof the earnings "sauce" ingredients, such as spices, oil, and vegetables. These were foods women wereexpected to provide(complementingmen's expectedprovisionof staplegrains)and wouldotherwise have had to obtain throughgatheringand processingor barter.Husbandsalso typicallygave their wives gifts of season.Overall, cloth or cash at the end of the gardening membersfor their labor was relacompensatingfamily tively easy, partly because watering still did not take much time or effort and thus interferedlittle with individuals'own domesticand tradeactivities. By all accounts, earningthe revenue needed to compensate familymemberswas also easierduringthe postwar "honeymoon" period. Becauseat the time the Sakwereamongthe few producers abyand Dogonagardeners of "European" vegetables,they had little difficultyfindelite consumers included Bobo-Dioulasso's ing buyers. not only European expatriatesbut also African warveterans and civil servants,many of whom had adoptedat diet. Popular least certain aspects of the "Westernized" of gardenvegetablesalso increasedduring consumption this period,as streetvendors, canteens,andbar-restaurants
Freidberg benefit cuts reined in the buyingpowerof civil servants, of while the deregulation fertilizer production pricesraised successorBlaise Campaore costs. By the time Sankara's agreedto a World Bank adjustmentplan in 1991, comwereexperiencingwhat they described mercialgardeners cut as unechutein marketdemand,as consumers backon The 50 percentdeof purchases nonessentialfoodstuffs. valuation of the West African franc (FCFA) in January 1994 did not help mattersany.Nor did it help that more had and morevillagers,as well as city-dwellers, taken up market gardening over the past several years (Bosch of 1985). Now, the dayswhen the gardeners Sakabyand had the urbanmarketto themselvesaredecidedly Dogona over. These days, accordingto both gardenersand the women selling vegetablesin town, "thereare more proAnd these days, in those first ducers than consumers." to specializein marketgardening, find, producers villages but not only that their marketis increasinglysaturated, that their dailyworkis increasingly grueling. Higher costs, slower sales, soil exhaustion, and the squeeze falling riverall amountto a classicreproduction as the peri-urbanvillagersput it, gweleya,or "hard or, times." People's efforts to cope with these hard times livelihood strategies, have generated,not just diversified and but alsodivisivetensionsboth at the household village level aroundrightsand dutiesthat no longerseem as fair social clior feasibleas they once did. This deteriorating underminedthe environmental mate has in turnfurther in and economic conditionsof marketgardening, at least of four ways:first,in the atomization gardenproduction, second, in the collapseof village cooperativerelations; networksof of third,in the isolation villagesfrombroader within the conjugal in resource access,andfinally, tensions householdaroundduty and money. First, the atomizationof garden production reflects how household patriarchshave experienced declining Men in their forties and fifties, who are exprosperity. pected to act as their families' chief providers,have found that, not only can they no longer affordgenerous of giftsnor repairs their now-agingmopedsand tin roofs, can barelyassureeven the minimal needs of their they as In offspring. orderto trimtheirresponsibilities providers, many of these older men have divided their gardens amongteenageandyoungadultsons (which might mean splitting a quarterof a hectare four ways). The sons are then expected to buy their own clothes, perhapspay for their own or their siblings'school fees, or even help buy grainfor the family.By dividingup theirland, the fathers relinquish their once-prestigiousstatus as the villages' but "big gardeners," they are also freer to devote their suchastradeor artisanal timeandcapitalto otherventures, on fruit workin townor commercial orchards lineageland.
meals and snacks. began to offer European-influenced efforts produce to both the qualityandquantity Gardeners' of freshproducedemandedby the city'srapidlygrowing population was encouragedby the provincial colonial which providedseeds and technical asadministration, sistanceandheld annualmarketfairs,givingprizesto the with the finestvegetables. growers Forthe firsttime, marketgardeners found themselves able to buy goods for themselves and their family that once only city people had owned:imported cloth, housewares,tin roofs, bicycles, even mopeds.For Bobo men, long renowned as hardworkingand skilled cultivators (Saul 1991), marketgardeningrepresenteda "moder," commerciallyrewarding,yet culturallymeaningfulway to fulfilltheirrolesas foodproducers familyproviders. and In short, European-style gardening,once an activity associatedwith forcedlabor,took on new meaningsin the postwarperiod. It became an occupation that fulfilled both customary and responsibilities relativelyrecent material desires,and was consideredby many men preferable to wage labor in the IvoryCoast-even, some said, to preferable salariedgovernmentwork. Hard Times The saladdaysdid not last. Gardenersin Sakabyand Dogonabeganto notice the fallingwaterlevels anddeterioratingbanksof the riverHouet in the early 1970s. At the time,mostbelongedto a recentlyaccredited gardeners' cooperative,so some men took advantageof their membership to purchase subsidizedmotor-pumpsfrom the unionof gardening state-run (Union regionale cooperatives des cooperatives agricoles et maraicheres de BoboDioulasso,URCABO). However,they weremotivatedat leastasmuchby the desireto increase theiroutputasbyany concernsaboutthe river,which in any case wasdropping only gradually. In the early1980s,the economicconditionsof market gardening beganto deteriorate alongwith the watersupply. The coup d'etat of the self-proclaimed sorevolutionary cialist Thomas Sankarain 1983 disrupted important the tomatotradewith Togoandthe IvoryCoastandprovoked and a minorexodusof expatriates businesselites (Labazee the of and 1988).EvenbeforeSankara, population affluent Westernized consumers most inclined to buy greenbeans and lettuce had been driftingout of Bobo-Dioulasso and towardsthe increasinglyprimatecity of Ouagadougou, which had replacedBobo as the capital of independent 1996). UpperVoltain 1960 (Skinner1974;Engelbert before Sankarawas assassinatedin 1987, he Shortly set Burkina Fasoon a courseof "auto-adjustment," which furthersqueezedthe marketgardeners. Salaryfreezesand
Gardeningon the Edge Becausemost of the young men who cultivate small individualplots do not have much money to spend on inputs (or on anythingelse), they necessarilymake gardeningdecisionsaccordingto what they can affordat the moment and what will earn cash most quickly,not what they know might yield higherprofits.Therefore,most of them plant their gardenswith a mix of leaf lettuce and green onions. These are consideredless lucrative than other common commercialvegetables,such as tomatoes and cabbage,but they can be raisedfromlast year's seeds and arereadyformarketin only 30 days.These gardeners do not usuallyhave accessto manure,for the few households who own cattle graze them out in the "bush," where they are tended by hired Peul (Fulani) herders. Mostbuyat leasta minimalamountof chemicalfertilizer, along with a cartload of "compost" (mixed garbage from a municipal landfill). However, as with crop choices, fertilizeruse is typically limited by budgetary constraints. Becausethese young men have little confidencethat more effort spent on their gardenswould bring significantly higher returns,given the depressedlocal market, they tend not to spend much time on upkeep. They clearlycannot affordto neglect crucialtaskssuch as watering and harvesting,but once those are accomplished many of them spend their days in downtown Bobo, either workingas trade apprentices(e.g., in masonryor electrical repair) or simply looking for odd jobs and small-time bizness (e.g., buying and reselling used clothes). Some work as day laborerson public worksor constructionsites wheneverpossibleand payyoungboys to water their gardenswhile they are away.Some cultivate only a few squaremetersof their already-small plots, to keep maintenancetime to a minimum. It would be easy but inaccurate to typecast these generationthat neither youngmen as partof a "citified" values nor understandsagricultural skills. On the contrary,most have grown up working in their fathers'or brothers'gardensas well as in the family'sgrain fields. known to be particThey speakhighly of oldergardeners and adept, and some say that they would ularlystrong gardeners themselves if gladly become "professional" and only they could afford motor-pumps adequateinputs. reIn other words,gardeningunderideal circumstances mains a respected occupation. In the meantime, the young men need an income, and they know that they will never findeither the occasionalday laborjobs or the even rarer for urban employment opportunities longer-term if they do not actively seek them out. uncertain Such an outlook,combinedwith gardeners' is hardlyconduand generallyunsatisfactory revenues, cive to any kind of sustainedcollaborationwithin the
village itself.This is the second areain which changesin the social relations of productionboth reflect and conof tributeto the declining economic rewards peri-urban Brothersand neighborscommonlyhelp each gardening. other with labor-intensivetasks, such as transplanting or seedlings,but they rejectthe idea of pooling resources even coordinatingproduction, on the grounds that it than it wouldsolve.Everyone wouldcreatemoreproblems has differentschedules,they say, and differentpersonal and familyneeds to meet. They see any cooperationthat unwould involve dividing up revenue as particularly workable,given the growing gap between how much money people feel they need and how much they can expect the gardensto generate.As one man said, "in today'sworldyou can't get along with yourson, much less yourbrother,becauseof money.Everyonein ourhousehold works independently and alone, because when gardeningis not profitable,it'sbetter that each fendsfor himself." effortsto fend for themselvesthat led It wasgardeners' of to the disintegrationand eventual decertification the Sakabyand Dogonacooperativeseveralyearsago, aftera been largenumberof the members(who had apparently intendedfortheircrops)failedto repay offfertilizer selling loans from the agricultural ministry.The mass default minearnedthem not only a badname at the agricultural but also a standingdebt of severalthousanddollars. istry Until this is repaid, no future gardeners'cooperative from these villages will be eligible for credit from the in state.Still, it is unclearwhethermanygardeners Sakaby andDogonawouldbe inclinedto join, muchlessorganize, a future cooperative or other form of village self-help group,even though they realizethey are otherwiseunlikely to secure state or foreign assistance.Some claim or their peers are simplynot trustworthy reliable-look what happenedlast time, they say.Manyregard outany sider's interest in "organizing" (which often villagers means collecting informationand monetary contribuin tions) as inherentlysuspicious. Perhaps partbecauseof their proximity to town, these two villages have seen many one-time visitors,rangingfromstate officialswho to promisegifts of materielthat never materializes "busito producecrops nessmen"who arrangewith gardeners who they never returnto buy to fake "unionorganizers" collect dues, hand out membership cards,and then disappear.Stories about scheming strangersare rampant, reembellished,but they accurately vague,and probably in these vilflect a pervasivesentiment of apprehension 1996b). lages (Freidberg This sentiment, combined with the peri-urbangardeners'meageryields, has contributedto a third sort of degenerativeprocess:increasing isolation from crucial
Freidberg have come understrain,especially keting arrangements if wheregardeningis the male householdheads'primary not only source of cash income. This is the fourth and final realm where the social consequences of material hardshipare themselves underminingthe sustainability of marketgardening,albeit in subtleways. One sourceof domestic tension is the uncomfortably wide gap between the principleand realityof gardeners' Of roles as household"providers." all the responsibilities able areexpectedbutnot always to meet,the provision they of food grains is the most deeply embedded in Bobo normsof manhood(LeMoal1980). Most peri-urban garhouseholdsmustnow supplementtheir own mildening let harvestswith purchasedgrain,but often the women end up buying it, using income from their personal trades.How often is difficultto say,becausethe issueis so sensitive that men and women alike preferto discussit only in the abstract,ratherthan to specifywho buysthe household.The different dailyworkactivities grainin their unlike the situationin of women and men offerfew clues, the city itself. There it is not uncommon to find households in which women spend the day trading while men-perhaps seasonalor laid-offfactoryworkers-are relativelyidle. In Sakabyand Dogona,however,the gardens remainsites wheremen with no other sourcesof income are obliged to make an effort-to demonstrateto familyand neighborsthat they areworkinghardto fulfill As their responsibilities. one man explained,his garden but broughthim no profitwhatsoever, in the interestsof conjugal tranquilityhe toiled there day after day. He could not, he said, "justsit there, armscrossed." The other source of domestic conflict lies in the women's responsibilityfor selling the vegetables and is overthe revenue.When the market glutted then turning and sales are slow, the women often bring home much less moneythan the men wouldlike, raisingthe suspicion (especiallywhen the women in question are the wives, ratherthan mothersor sisters)that some part has been diverted. Many men claim that their wives regularly "pocket" part of the revenue from the vegetable sales;a few even say they spend it on beer on the way home. Whether guiltyof these chargesor not, women of course resent them. Selling their husbands'vegetables rarely bringsthem any personalrewards(end-of-seasongifts of cloth and cash arerarenow), but it does takestime away or fromtheirown trades,such as sellingfirewood brewing almost invariablyspend much if not beer. Becausethey all of the revenuefromthese tradeson their children or other household members,women find accusations of In selfishnessdoubly frustrating. some households,husbands profess complete faith in their spouses and attribute their poor earnings to the gweleya. Times are
trade, aid, and credit relations. In the 1950s, gardeners from Sakabyand Dogona won prizesat annual market fairsfor theirflawlesstomatoesand giant cabbages; today mosthave neither the soil nor the capitalneededeven to grow these crops. Renown for high quality and yields now lies in moredistantvillages, 25 or even 75 km from town,manyof whichhave takenup commercial vegetable the past fifteen to twenty years. productiononly during Most are organizedin state-recognized cooperatives,so have access to credit and subsidizedinputs from they URCABO and better possibilities for attracting more substantialaid from foreign agencies. Indeed, over the past severalyearsa few villages in the Bobo hinterlands have received donor funds (from the Canadiangoverncanal irrigation ment, amongothers)formechanized sysand tems,storehouses, inputs. packingmaterials, improved These sites are most attractive to contract-exporters, partly because they are well-equipped, but partly also because the growershave demonstrated,through their organizedefforts to obtain foreign assistance,qualities the exportersseek in growers: namely,a commitmentto "modem" production methods, access to disciplined family and village labor, and at least some familiarity with Westerninstitutions. in Only a few gardeners the more distant areasof the close-settledzone have contractrelationswith the largescale exporters,but most benefit from the patronageof the womenvegetable wholesalers basedin Bobo-Dioulasso. Over the past three decades,these wholesalershave become not only the region'smain tradersin gardenprosourceof creditfor small-scale duce, but also the primary often producers(Freidberg1996b). Although gardeners the wholesalers aggressive as it characterize bargainers, is well known that they offer better lending terms and higherpricesthan URCABO, and payforproducemuch morequickly.And it is only becauseof wholesalers' loans that gardenerswho sell to them regularlycan buy the seeds and fertilizersneeded for high yields of highdemandcrops,such as tomatoesand cabbage.Yetmost of these wholesalers bypassSakabyandDogona,despitethe costs of transport moredistantvillages.They say, to high somewhatscornfully, the peri-urban do that gardeners not grow anything they want to buy, and in some cases do not even wantto sell to strangers, not especially on credit. The peri-urbangardenershave indeed been less dependent on the wholesalersthan more distant growers, because they have been able to send their produce to town on the head-pans of their wives, daughters,and mothers.Although a kinswomanon foot cannot carryas much as a wholesalerwith a pickup truck, at least, the reason, she is duty-boundto come back with gardeners the day'srevenue. However, even these domestic mar-
Gardeningon the Edge tough for both men and women, they say.In others, the small pile of change brought from the market each evening is clearly a major source of conflict. Some women described quarrelsleading to beatings; a few claimed that when their husbandscomplain excessively about their earnings,they simplyrefuseto go to market the next day.Thus just as every trip to the gully to fetch of waterhas become a reminder the river's decline, so too do the frequentif not daily confrontationsover income bringhome, quite literally,the realityof hardtimes. the Clearly,these "hardtimes"have transformed social as well as the materialmeaning of work.As market gardeningin Sakabyand Dogona has become less remunerative,it has undermined gardeners' abilityto fulfillsocial obligations.As the workhas become not only more gruelingbut also a sourceof household and community strife,it has become the workmanymen do only because they have no other, work they hope their children will have the choice of avoiding. It might generate enough it second-handwardrobe; revenuefor a youngbachelor's mighthelp keep a householdfed, when cobbledtogether with odd jobs and petty commerce.But it does not genor eratemuch sense of security, confidencein the future. Most important,it does not sustainthe social institutions resourcesneededto mobilizeboth local and extra-local for and needed, ultimately, the broader projectof sustainon land-based livelihoods the urban periphery. ing
familResidentsof Sakabyand Dogonaface a paradox to many commercial food producersin the closeiar Africancities:theirlivelihoods settledzonessurrounding aresimultaneously dependenton and threatenedby a dynamic urban economy. The threats themselves derive from a paradoxicalmix of exclusion and opportunity. fromthe servicesof both the nearbymuOften excluded these nicipality and the ruraldevelopmentbureaucracy, residentsface serious,but also easilyoverlookedenvironmental problems.State and foreign agencies overlook them not because they are new or obscurebut rather,I would argue,becausethey are simplyno one's top priorofferedby the city ity.At the sametime, the opportunities mean that environmentalconservationis not a top may priorityformanypeople who live on the urbanperiphery either.Even an urbaneconomy constrictedby structural was in the early 1990s, adjustment,as Bobo Dioulasso's offersboth women and men, both young and old, many possible ways to earn a day'skeep-provided they actively pursuethem. Thus, even though people living in close-settled zones may retain a strong sense of village
identity (as do the residents of Sakaby and Dogona), their workinglives are characterized a much higher by degree of daily mobility and atomizationthan those of those of seasonalmimost ruraldwellers(even, arguably, grantlaborers). Forindividuals,this kind of workinglife can be liberating, offeringa daily escape from the watchful eyes of family and village and-for women especially-a route towardsgreatereconomic autonomy.It is worth noting have that women in the villagesaroundBobo-Dioulasso the without help achieved this relativeautonomylargely of "gender-sensitive" developmentaid (Schroeder1999) but withthe benefit of easy access to urbanmarkets.For households,the combinationof severalsmalland irregular incomes, whether spent separatelyor pooled, may well providefor a higher degreeof day-to-dayeconomic commodity securitythan any kind of joint agricultural production. However,as this case studyhas shown,the veryappeal and logic of diversified,mobile livelihood strategiesin the urbanperipherymeans that the practicaland social are conditions for environmentalstewardship quite differentfromthose in most ruralvillage communities,and in at least two ways considerablymore difficult.First, people who have the possibilityof earningmuch-needed cash in the city arenot necessarilyinclined to short-term much of their limited time and energyon conserspend vation practicesthat only mightyield eventual rewards. lies The uncertainty not so muchin the technicalviability of conservation-as Mortimore's (1993) researchdemonstrates,smallholdershave maintained the fertility of intensively cultivated land for generations-as it does in the urbanmarket.Second, the livelihoods practiced in the close-settled zones around African cities typically take place in many different sites, with different schedules and natural resource requirements. This needed to plan and implemeans that the "community" of measures ment the kinds village-based characterizing Africa (for ruralconservationprojectsin contemporary example, soil terracingor microdamconstruction) may not reallyexist for those purposes.Critics of "participatory" development have noted development agencies' tendencies to overlook messy intravillage social inequalities and conflicts in their projectsites, often with negative social and environmentalconsequences(Ribot 1996). It is also importantto consider how locationand, in particular,urban proximity-can weaken the potential for community-baseddevelopment and conservation initiatives. urIn sum,the environmentalchangesaccompanying ban growthin Africaoften threatenthe naturalresource close-settledzones.As this article baseof the surrounding
ever customs and character traits appear prevalent in societies(Fukuyama 1995).One reviewof Put"prosperous" nam (Boix and Posner1996) argues convincinglyfor more cautiousanalysesof the links between social capital and such as NorthernItaly.This articlefocuses stories" "success social practicesand relationships on the institutionalized and thatgovern relationships production exchange day-to-day in a particular place, and makesno attemptto generalize life aboutthe qualityof trustand associational at a regional is or nationallevel. Since the term"socialcapital" so often at understood these levels, I avoidusingthe termin this article (althoughI did so in an earlierdraft). Most of the gardenersin the peri-urban villages produce primarilythe nonindigenousvegetables associated with and (suchas greensaladand foodways "European" Lebanese dishes sandwiches)and/orthe eclectic rangeof "African" foundin multiethniccities (i.e., ricewith saucesintroduced fromGhanaand the Cote d'Ivoire). by migrants The archives of colonial French West Africa in Dakar, Catholic misSenegal,the archivesof the Bobo-Dioulasso town hall archiveswere all sion, and the Bobo-Dioulasso sources.A numberof Universityof consultedfor primary theses also providedinformation (see ReferOuagadougou well ences section). Relatively documentedis the operative on record the Bobo-Dioulasso termhere:the archival region in focused and is spotty, colonialagricultural reports particular thanon horticulture. moreon cotton andgraincropfarming residence I "household" a unitof shared as Inthisstudy, defined I at andconsumption. arrived this definitionby initiallysurveying (see the following footnote) the self-proclaimed or heads"(the chefdu menage, sotigiin Dioula) "household and then determiningwho they includedas membersof and theirhouseholds why.In mostcasesit wasfairlyclear.In of the old "Muslim quarter" Dogona, however,residential are and eating arrangements as convoluted as the tradiAdult brothersor cowives living tional Bobo architecture. eat within the samelargecompounddo not necessarily tomen use gether,and vice versa.Most of the adult married the to their gardenincomeprimarily support "dependents" with whom they live and eat-wives, children, widowed mothers-but those whosefathersarestill activelyexercisauthorityare sometimesexpected to ing their patriarchal of contributeto the provisioning the larger family.In these casesthe definitionof householdis moreambiguous. as assistants wellasone resident Withthe helpof tworesearch 180 fromeachvillage,I surveyed households(50 in Dogona, 130 in Sakaby) in order to collect basic informationon householdsizeand compositionas well as on the rangeand activitiesin the two villages.This scaleof market-gardening was typically,though not invariably, information supplied seniormanor an adultson. Fromthe surby the household's vey pool I selected50 households(15 in Dogona,35 in Sakof as aby)encompassing muchas possiblethe diversity each village's garden operations:large and small households, or those with hiredlabor,mechanized irrigation, significant off-farm income,and those withoutthese things.I then inin terviewedall the householdmemberswho participated for of or the production marketing vegetables, a total of 135 interviews(45 in Dogona,90 in Sakaby). to was "Bobo-Dioula" originallya French term, referring who Bobo-speakers wereMuslimand also engagedin some kind of trade.The Bobo termfor this group,"Zara," originally describedMande traderswho settled amongst the
has shown, preciselyhow local people experience and confront these changes is an empiricalquestion. In the case of Sakabyand Dogona, the experienceof changing ecological conditions combined with structuraladjustment austerity been decidedlytrying,both physically has and socially. Although it has not seriouslyjeopardized physical survival, the resulting hardship and tensions have taken their toll on normsand relationsof trust,reciprocity,and sociability,both within and beyondthe immediatecommunities.In turn,this has undermined local will and capacityto addressthe most pressingthreatsto land-basedlivelihoods. peri-urban While such changes are impossibleto quantify,they can, like changes in the land and market, be traced historically. Equally important, they must be located A geographically. rangeof disciplinesnow looks to social institutionsand their normativeframeworks help exto on a variety of scales, why some places prosper plain, while other languish-why in some places resources, both humanand natural,are activelysustained,while in othersneglected. mostsuchanalyses not really do However, examine changes in these institutions-to the extent that they examine change at all-in their material,geographic contexts. People work with land, capital, and each other quite differentlyin differenthistoricallyconstructedplaces. More researchneeds to consider these differencesas, not peripheral, central to the analysis but of social institutionsand sustainability.
The fieldworkfor this project was funded by grants fromthe Fulbright the Program, National Science Foundation, and the Rocca Family Foundationfor African Studies.I thank MahirSaul for his insightson the Bobo regionand MichaelWatts,Gillian Hart,andJesseRibot, as well as three anonymousreferees,for their constructive commentson earlierdraftsof this paper.
1. See Hart's1997 articlefor a critiqueof the new institutionalismas definedby economics(Williamson1985;Bardhan 1989) and sociology (Granovetterand Swedberg1992). Muchof the recent interestin socialinstitutionscenterson theirrole in cultivatingtrustandotherformsof socialcapital (Putnam1993). The latterconcepthas provedusefulin studiesshowinghow specificinstitutionalized relationships and practiceshave been beneficialto specificinstancesof economicgrowth(Evans1996) andenvironmental sustainability(Bebbington1997). However,the term"socialcapital"has alsobeen usedratherlesscarefully describe to what-
Gardening on the Edge Bobo beginningin the sixteenth centuryand subsequently adoptedtheir farmingand religiouspractices.Todayboth termsdescribeMuslimreligiousidentity(which did not become re-established the regionuntil the earlytwentieth in than they describedescent from century)more accurately immigrants. sixteenth-century connotation 7. Accordingto Saul (1992, 357), "Theprimary of the phrase'arealman'forthe southernBobois mastery of in hiddensciences,and only derivatively superiority physical strength and the use of arms, or success in farming. These latterabilitiesarethe effectsof the former, attributes of a personwho hasbeen well endowed(in occultpower)by his father." 8. In principle, land is distributedthrough the patrilineage from a fatherto his sons or nephews,whereasnonlanded such as animalsor brewingpots, belongs to the property, In matrilineage. addition,certainformsof occultknowledge are passedfrom father to son, while matriclanelders (a mother's uterinekin) have customary the rightsto arrange of marriage theirnieces andnephews(Saul 1992). to 9. Disputesover who belongs these lineages,on the other over hand,arerelativelycommon,as aredisagreements the borders betweenadjacentgardens. 10. Underlyingthis suspicionwas the conviction that anyone who soughtformaltitle couldnot be trustedto respectnonwritten customarypropertyrights. The neighborsof this man claimedhe was using the titling processto particular land that did not actuallybelong to his acquireborrowed family. 11. This valueis owedpartlyto the simplefact that mostof the gardensare located very near the areasbelieved to have been firstclearedand settledby the founders the villages. of In addition,some gardensare located near sites, both on land and in the river Houet, recognizedas sacredby the Boboreligion(Le Moal 1980). of 12. Inparticular, mentionthe increasing they scarcity sheanuts, whichareprocessed for and locally butter alsosoldto exporters. on 13. Information the jardin was publique drawnfromcolonial of in (stored the archives French Agricultural Ministry reports WestAfricain Dakar, Senegal)aswell asfromoralhistories. and 14. The processby which watering othergardentaskswere male is an important, albeitcomplicated, gendered chapter in these villages'socialhistory(Freidberg 2001).
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Correspondence: Departmentof Geography,Fairchild016, DartmouthCollege, Hanover,NH 03755, e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
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