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Reducing Air Pollution in West Africa through Participatory Activities: Issues, Challenges and Conditions for Citizens’ Genuine Engagement

  • Stéphanie YatesEmail author
  • Johanne Saint-Charles
  • Marius N. Kêdoté
  • S. Claude-Gervais Assogba
Living reference work entry

Abstract

Largely supported by international donors, participatory initiatives are multiplying in Africa, to such an extent that some observers refer to a new “tyranny of participation”. The challenges associated with participatory democracy are even more acute in developing countries. In a context where the notion of civil society in these countries remains unclear, the inclusion principle is difficult to enact, particularly with regard to women who are still largely underrepresented in this type of process. Moreover, there is a risk that participatory initiatives widen the gap between “politically engaged” citizens and their more apathetic counterparts. Power relationships between participants are another important issue. If not properly tackled, they can lead to the maintenance of traditional hegemonic discourses – rather than to innovative ways of thinking. Lastly, the concrete implementation of the solutions or compromises emerging from participatory processes is paramount for their legitimacy.

This chapter examines and compares two cases of participatory processes put forward in the context of a public health project aiming at reducing air pollution in the cities of Cotonou (Benin) and Dakar (Senegal). This allows us to reflect on the issues, challenges, and conditions of success of the participatory processes orchestrated in these contexts. It also brings support to the need to address various challenges when participatory initiatives are fostered and shows that these challenges are met differently in the two countries.

Keyword

Public participation Air pollution Public health Senegal Benin Communication Dialogue Inclusiveness Power relationships 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stéphanie Yates
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johanne Saint-Charles
    • 2
  • Marius N. Kêdoté
    • 3
  • S. Claude-Gervais Assogba
    • 4
  1. 1.Département de communication sociale et publiqueUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Département de communication sociale et publique, axe santé environnementaleCINBIOSE, Université du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  3. 3.Institut Régional de Santé Publique, Comlan Alfred QuenumUniversité d’Abomey-CalaviAbomey CalaviBenin
  4. 4.Faculté d’AgronomieUniversité de ParakouAbomey-CalaviBenin

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