In recent years peaceful and credible elections without post-electoral crises have contributed to democratic change of government in most countries in the region (Senegal, March 2012; Mali, August 2013; Nigeria, March 2015; Guinea, October 2015; Benin, March 2016; Niger, March 2016; Gabon, August 2016; Ghana, December 2016). Authoritarian regimes came to an end in Burkina Faso (October 2014) and Gambia (December 2016).
Over the past decade, West African countries have made visible progress in the field of governance. However, beyond the ritual of the ballot box, ‘good governance’ is often lacking. The executive may lack power, leading to weak rule of law or even collapse of the state (Mali, Guinea-Bissau); some leaders have imposed or consented to the loss of national sovereignty, handing over responsibility for security to foreign armed forces; some leaders and state bodies have been implicated in illegal trafficking of arms, drugs or migrants. Elsewhere it is parliamentary power that is weak, with corrupt parliaments and national assemblies that are mere echo-chambers. Or it may be the judiciary, perceived by litigants as corrupt, dependent on the executive and powerless to establish equitable transitional justice mechanisms in countries emerging from conflict (Mali, Cote d’Ivoire).
Poor governance has impacted on all development sectors: health, during the Ebola crisis; education, with poor performance in the sector ranging from the low educational level of girls to the sale of already-devalued diplomas; agriculture, with the exploitation of small farmers. Poor governance affects all levels, not just the national level but also the local level with local issues such as management of natural resources or local budgets, and the regional level, where for example a discredited head of state may become president of the Economic Commission for West Africa.
PIWA works towards responsible and participatory governance, where decision-makers are accountable to citizens and citizens participate in the making of decisions which concern them.
PIWA’s activities towards this goal include:
Since it was founded, PIWA has carried out projects to promote democratic governance in nearly all the countries of West Africa, on different topics.
Forest resources are a major source of income, bringing in three billion 3 billion what ? a year, but the granting of forest exploitation licences is not transparent, nor is the division of resources among the state, collectives, communities and private entrepreneurs.
A legal and regulatory framework for managing the environment exists, but it is inadequate. At local and national level, integration of the environmental dimension into policy making is progressing slowly. (For example, a law on land ownership was abandoned).
Parliament should be able to check the power of the executive and put pressure on the government to demonstrate clarity and transparency in the management of the environment, but initiatives in this direction are rare, almost non-existent. Parliament does not fully exercise its constitutional functions of scrutiny, legislation and representation of the people. A perfect example of this is that since 2016 the national assembly has blocked a proposed coastal law.
The judiciary, which should support the quest for transparency and accountability in environmental governance, struggles to fulfil its role of balancing powers and applying existing law. Thus environmental damage and degradation continue unchecked - deforestation in Casamance, fraudulent mining of sand at Guédiawaye, dumping of toxic industrial waste in the bay of Hann, and the construction of a national stadium in an important green area of the technology park at Pikine.
Civil society organisations such as youth organisations, which should be conducting citizen scrutiny of public authorities at local and national level, produce disappointing results. Their initiatives and their denunciations of environmental damage and degradation are barely heard, because they lack capacity and means for communication, through either old or new media.
The media devote about 1% of their space to the environment, and are interested only in extreme situations like the killing of 15 forestry workers in Casamance. They seek the sensational, instead of providing quality information to denounce infringements and contribute to raising communities’ awareness of environmental issues.
In response to these and other challenges, PIWA launched the project Citizen media for participatory environmental governance in Senegal, with the support of the European Union. The project aims to strengthen young people and media to raise citizens’ awareness and foster democratic, participatory and responsible governance of the environment in Senegal.
Pour atteindre ces résultats, l’IPAO la stratégie d’intervention de l’IPAO est :
|1.To provide information on environmental issues and policies at national and regional level, particularly on deforestation, sanitation and pollution||
|2. To strengthen the capacities, especially of young people, to monitor and raise awareness through media on the development and implementation of national and local environmental policy, particularly on deforestation, sanitation and pollution||
|3.To strengthen dialogue between communities and decision-makers on environmental policies and issues||