This paper aims to examine the dark flip side of the heightened dreams and wild expectations of development as a bright picture that accompanied the discovery of petroleum in politically unstable and donor-dependent Chad.
Data were elicited through local-level ethnography–participant observation, individual surveys and focus group discussion sessions with stakeholders on the impact of the Chad–Cameroon pipeline and petroleum development project.
While the “discourse of development” is about a better and new future, this new future, however, has a dark side: un/under-development, “backwardness”, corruption and patronage, leading to deeply entrenched poverty. Petroleum has become a discursive site where the competing discourses about development personified as the provision of material resources are played out.
The failure of petro-dollar-inspired development in Chad speaks to the mutually reinforcing nature of development decisions. Although firms need workers with specialized skills, workers will not acquire those skills in anticipation of employment opportunities. This disjuncture highlights the need for strategic complementarity in investment decision and coordination among economic agents. More than a decade later, the utopic dream of petro-dollar-inspired development as an aspiration is now characterized by a disconnect–environmental degradation, food insecurity, gendered and deeply entrenched poverty. This disjuncture demonstrates the need for a holistic impact assessment that involves different adaptive approaches and focus on a wide range of livelihood issues. Holistic evaluation on all programmes, plans, projects, policies and interventions will lead to the achievement of sustainable people-centred development that conserves the stewardship of nature.
Pemunta, N. and Tabenyang, T. (2016), "From hope to dystopia: Concurrent discourses of petro-dollar inspired-development in Chad", International Journal of Development Issues, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 35-50. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDI-09-2015-0056Download as .RIS
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