Economic, political, and social integration is recognized as both a major developmental and political issue in the West African subregion. Even though significant breakthroughs in integration have occurred at an institutional level, these advances are barely noticeable in behaviours and practices at the local level. Positive and decisive action on regional integration, therefore, continues to be bogged down by the disconnect between institutional progress and the day-to-day reality of the people of West Africa.
But, what if regional integration were not simply up to political decision-makers and the administrative machinery? What if it was not merely a matter of treaties, conventions, and regulations? Indeed, experience points to the existence of powerful grassroots movements for integration, linking and articulating borders, territories, humans, and activities. Spontaneously implemented by community or religious networks, these movements are mostly the result of migration, production, and trade. They are particularly obvious in spaces shared by several nationalities, making up real "natural integration zones" or "border countries."
What is the potential of these spaces? To what extent will a better understanding and recognition of these grassroots movements speed up regional integration processes? And, to what extent can cross-border trade, both legal and illegal, become an integration tool?
This book responds to these questions, examining the dynamics that provide structure to cross-border spaces in West Africa. It bridges research and action in an effort to fuel the debate around concrete leads in support of cross-border cooperation and to reassimilate the people of West Africa into the ongoing integration process.
Enda Diapol is one of the constituent teams of the international organization known as Environnement et Développement du Tiers Monde (Enda Tiers Monde) [Third World Environmental Development Action]. Enda Diapol is the co-founding member, with the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC/OECD), the National Borders Directorate of Mali (DNF), and the West African Borders and Integration Initiative (WABI).