Insecurity, informal trade and timber trafficking in the Gambia/Casamance borderlands

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The Gambia’s long frontier with Casamance, southern Senegal, has historically been porous allowing informal cross-border trade to flourish. With context from colonial times, the paper examines the post-independence period, during which flows of agricultural and forest products mainly from Casamance into The Gambia have continued, while processed foods and manufactured goods have been traded in the other direction. Certain flows have become pathological since the Casamance rebellion began in 1982, with natural resources being traded by both Senegalese government and separatist forces, and arms trafficked to the latter partly through Gambian channels. With the conflict now of low intensity though not resolved, continued illegal timber exploitation in Casamance driven mainly by international actors is becoming more environmentally destructive and locally divisive. The paper argues that informal cross-border trade has long been bound up with insecurity at local, national, transnational and international levels, and that contemporary dynamics show some historical continuities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-294
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Borderlands Studies
Issue number2
Early online date8 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Casamance
  • Senegal
  • Gambia
  • war economies
  • timber trafficking
  • rosewood


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