The Keita Project : an anthropological study of international development discourses and practices in Niger
This thesis is an ethnography of an Integrated Rural Development Project which began its activities in 1984 and is aimed at 'fighting against desertification' in the Ader Doutchi Majiya Region of Niger. The Project is financed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, until 2000, was implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. The thesis aims at contributing to our understanding of 'development': how it works; what configurations of power and forms of agency it produces; and how it is perceived by different categories of actors involved in it, including planners, project staff, and the men and women living in the 'intervention area'. The thesis contains nine chapters. Chapter one introduces the thesis' aim, theoretical import and methodological approaches. Chapters two and three provide an introduction to the historical and socio-economic context of the Ader Doutchi Majiya. Chapter four unravels the discourses of development which made the Project and its strategies possible in the early 1980s. Chapter five looks at the concepts and practices of development of project staff, and Chapter six focuses on local people's perceptions and patterns of agency in relation to the Keita Project. Chapters seven and eight compare the discourses and practices of planners, project staff, and local people, with reference to two axes of project 'intervention': gender (Chapter seven) and participation (Chapter eight). Chapter nine concludes the thesis. The thesis contributes to theory in the anthropology of development, bringing together actor-oriented and structural explanations into one analytical framework and arguing that there are limits to the productive pursuit of either on its own. It contributes to anthropological studies of change in West African societies; and it adds new insights to the 'ethnography of aid', making available some 'lessons learned' from the Keita Project to a potentially interdisciplinary audience.