On World Wetlands Day Tuesday, Senegalese environmental protection NGOs mobilized several dozen volunteers, as well as water and forestry officials, to clean up parts of the mangrove swamps and surrounding coastline in the Joal-Fadiouth marine protected area, a biodiversity sanctuary noted for its sea turtles.
Due to the lack of an adequate waste collection system, the sea current creates piles of debris which endanger the biodiversity in the area
Elhadj Thiecouta, a student volunteer, provides some context to the situation. “There are many families who live off the mangrove swamp or the sea. In order to conserve species, we deemed it necessary to eliminate all plastic, because plastic is harmful to the environment.”
One of the organizers of the clean-up day, Abdou Karim Fall, explains how the garbage accumulates across the coastline, “With the current that comes from the north to the south, all the plastic waste from these villages will get caught up in the current and end up dumped on this island.”
Environment Protection Training for the Youth
The Senegalese Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Sophie Gladima, has promised that about fifty young people from the commune will receive environmental protection training.
“We said to ourselves that we’d take advantage of this day to do the launch. The training will start next week, so we have a cohort of fifty young people who will train other young people, and so periodically, we think that each month we should be able to come and take the waste but also pick up all the plastic to take to the factories that today in Senegal process it to produce power.”
Youssef El Ali, President of the NGO Océanium, shares his insight on creating social awareness amongst communities.
“You know, it’s only by training people and making them want to take this kind of action independently that we will have won the fight. Having a clean-up every once in a while is good, but it’s really only to set an example and show how you can make a place beautiful. A beautiful place is a place without waste, a healthy place because every living being has the right to live in a clean and healthy place.”
After having undergone the various training programmes in environmental protection, as well as scuba diving and maritime biology, the youth volunteers will have access to jobs around the wetlands and in the oil companies operating in the area,