Jesse Ribot, Senior Associate in the Institutions and Governance Program of the World Resources Institute.

When the Senegalese government promised to decentralize a decade ago many villagers were elated. For them it represented a chance to gain control over their forest resources and fend off the rabid deforestation caused by the charcoal industry. Their hopes were dashed when they realized that economic power still trumped democratic practice in development policy. Jesse Ribot recounts this modern fable.