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Congo's Environmental Paradox: Potential and Predation in a Land of Plenty

A concise and revealing analysis of Congo's forest, mineral, land, water and oil sectors, and the tangled politics behind them

Series: African Arguments

By: Theodore Trefon(Author)

208 pages, 2 illustrations, 1 map, 7 tables

Zed Books

Paperback | May 2016 | #233681 | ISBN-13: 9781783602438
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £14.99 $20/€17 approx
Hardback | May 2016 | #233683 | ISBN-13: 9781783602445
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £69.99 $91/€80 approx

About this book

The Democratic Republic of Congo has the natural resources the world needs – it is crucial to satisfying our craving for the latest high-tech gadgets; the Inga Dam could light up all of Africa; while Congo's farmers could feed a billion people. These realities are redefining the country's strategic contribution to a globalized world. A resource paradise for some, the DRC is an environmental nightmare for others.

Congo's Environmental Paradox analyses the new dynamics in the country's forest, mineral, land, water and oil sectors, revealing the interactions between these sectors. Connecting the dots, it shows how we need to fundamentally rethink power, politics and resource management in Congo today.

"Eloquent and richly documented [...]"
– David Booth, Overseas Development Institute

"A remarkable guide to the tangled relationships between minerals, water and other sectors of the political economy in the Congo. Indispensable reading for humanitarians and human rights advocates, both Congolese and international."
– Tom Turner, author of The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Reality

"A fascinating read, giving a no-nonsense view of the multitude of problems besetting Congo's natural resource sectors. The book puts today's problems into historical perspective and will serve as a reality-check to politicians and activists."
– Daniel Balint-Kurti, Global Witness

"An invaluable contribution. The author's capacity to convey a rich treasure chest of information and acute analytical skills make this a landmark work."
– Crawford Young, University of Wisconsin

"This should confirm Trefon's standing as one of the most perceptive observers and analysts of this central African giant."
– Edouard Bustin, Boston University

"Well-written, clearly structured and thoroughly documented, Trefon offers fresh analysis on the gap between resource potential and socio-economic development."
– Jeroen Cuvelier, University of Ghent


1. Introduction: Potential in a Land of Plenty
2. Forests of Wealth and Mystery
3. Food and Agriculture
4. Water: An Uncertain Ebb and Flow
5. Oil: Plenty for Some, Nothing for Most
6. Mining: Rise, Decline and Renaissance
7. Conclusion: Uncertainty and Predation in a Land of Plenty

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Theodore Trefon is senior researcher at the Belgian Royal Museum for Central Africa, and lecturer in Environmental Governance at ERAIFT/University of Kinshasa. He has published a number of articles and books in French and English, including Congo Masquerade (2011) and Reinventing Order in the Congo (2004).

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