Intro GIS Final   1 comment

The country of Senegal contains West Africa’s longest ongoing conflict. Since 1982 in the southern portion of Senegal – the region of Casamance – the Casamance Movement of Democratic Forces (MFDC) has fought the Government of Senegal (GoS) for regional independence, against cultural discrimination, and unemployment issues. A few peace agreements have been made (most recently in 2004) and all broken; only resulting in decreased level of violence in Casamance. Because no end to the conflict is near, the region receives little attention. Due to the conflict and the amount of landmines littering potential agricultural opportunities and roads (which are put into the ground by the MFDC), the GoS’ stance on the region as a whole, and along with the region being geographically severed from the rest of Senegal by way of The Gambia the region of Casamance has little opportunity to progress as a whole. However, regardless of the widespread conflict throughout the region, Casamance’s main industries are rice production, tourism, and cashew nut production.

According to Azam-Ali & Judge (2004) from FAO, Senegal was one of the top-ten countries in the world in raw cashew nut product. Of this national production, most of the cashews are produced throughout Casamance, while other cashew nut production areas in Senegal are in Sokone at 1,500 tonnes per year, and Thies, Keur, and Massar at 200 tonnes per year. This data is not current, but it will give the reader an idea of this resource being produced and exported amongst a conflict.

The amount of conflict and the density of landmines within each sub-region of Casamance is current data from Handicap International (2012). This data is relevant as each sub-region has differing levels of conflict and/or amounts of landmines. This may be attributed to where certain ethnic groups reside throughout the region itself, as the MFDC are attributed for being affiliated with/know for the Diola ethnic group. However, where the heavy conflict is shown on Map 3 is where the Peul ethnic groups live – a peaceful and traditional pastoralist people.

 The following maps will illustrate:

Map 1: All of Senegal’s sub-regions, with Casamance’s sub-regions highlighted.





Map 2: Map of Casamance’s sub-region’s; each sub-region label and outlined.






Map 3: Current levels of violence and landmine density in each sub-region in Casamance.





Map 4: Amount of cashew nut produced (in tonnes) for each sub-region in Casamance from 2004.





Map 5: Comparative map illustrating cashew production and levels of violence/landmine density in Casamance.





I picked these two topics because I am very interested in the conflict in Casamance, as I plan to conduct research there this summer (2012) and into the fall. Also, with the amount of landmines in the soil throughout the region one would assume that little to no agricultural production would occur. However, it takes a cashew tree sampling six years to mature enough to produce nuts, and I can only assume that many of the cashew trees used in current harvesting were planted before and amongst the conflict, as these trees are native to the area. What I found fascinating is the southern-middle sub-regions of Niassia, Niaguis, and Diattacouda (seen on Map 5) produced the most amounts of cashew nuts in 2004 but had the most conflict. (At this time, I must admit that I am aware of the discrepancies between times of data regarding cashew nut production and the conflict density throughout the region.) So, I can speculate and say that due to the cashew trees maturity rate, producing their nuts up off the ground (as opposed to agricultural crops such as sorghum or maize which are planted on the ground in fields – same fields that may have landmines), and being an ongoing resources which does not have to be replanted – all these factors play into cashew nut being able to produce high amounts even within a conflict zone.

There was one sub-region – Marsassoum – that had little to no conflict but had ample cashew nut production. This can be compared to the other three sub-regions mentioned prior which also as high production area but had high levels of conflict. This sub-region is an anomaly, and without more contextual knowledge I can only speculate that area is inhabited with the peaceful Peul ethnic group but further research on this specific circumstances would be needed to confirm.

Final Thoughts:
If developmental NGOs or agencies want to work in Casamance on alternative livelihood initiatives, I feel that mass cashew tree planting, production, and harvesting would be a positive addition to the region for economic development.

Future Direction:
If I had more time, a better understanding of how to manipulate and utilized the ArcGIS program, and more data I would have liked to have done the following:

  • GPS coordinates of specific villages of certain ethnic groups (Diola and Peuls) to see if there is a correlation between the densities of conflict/landmines to where these ethnic groups live.
  • Get current data on cashew nut production in the region, cashew nut initiatives have been implemented in the region since 2004, and find a potential trend of cashew product through recent and present year.
  • Gather more and current data of the conflict and the landmines, and map these separately. This would enable me to compare these items clearer, as opposed to lumping both into one category.
  • I want to look at other resources, potentially natural resources such as oil and (as mentioned prior) rice production and tourism.
  • Also, I wish I had more time to re-size the jpg’s before posting them, as I know each map is huge.

As special thanks to Michael Beach for this website expertise, and to GIS master Mr. John M. Steed.


Works Cited:
-Azam-Ali, S.H., & Judge, E.C., (2004). Small-scale cashew nut production. Published by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved from www.
-Handicap International (2012). Carte 6 impact categorie ardt map.
Other Resources:

One response to Intro GIS Final

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  1. Hi Travis!

    Just got your email and was browsing through the site. I love to see other anthros using GIS! Very powerful tool for both maps and analysis.


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