25.05.2013 > Senegalese Association pour la Protection des Almadies Read more... ... >
15.05.2013 - 19.05.2013 > Climate change and the changes in the ecosystems of the Langue de Barbarie Read more... ... >
28.03.2013 > Radio talk with environmental experts Read more... ... >
16.05.2013 > Successful project fundraising Read more... ... >
05.05.2013 > COTOA first private sector partner to support the Ecoproject of the month Read more... ... >
01.05.2013 > Stop nylon fishing nets! Read more... ... >
Welcome to our Ecoblog! Here is the place where we exchange ideas or spotlight green events that have come to our attention. Your comments or articles are welcome!
Where: Hôtel Savana Dakar, Senegal
What: The Konrad Adenauer Fondation and the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar organise the symposium, which aims to discuss between political decision makers, local leaders, non-governmental associations, journalists and environmental activists possibilities to anchor sustainable development as a core topic in the political debate.
Ecofund will present a solution to the challenge “How all the population can participate and impose environmental topics in the political debate?”
See you there!
Since December, in collaboration with Buchet-Chastel on our Ecoblog we share with you the memories and testimonials gathered from the Imraguen by writer Marie-Laure de Noray-Dardenne during her stay on the Banc d’Arguin. Their memories, their words and their lives paint a series of portraits, taken from her book « The Book of the Imraguen » (published in 2006 by Buchet-Chastel Ecologie.)
1. Good morning Marie-Laure, can you tell us a bit about you?
In my work and in my life, I have been close to the African Continent for 20 years. First I lived in Mali for two years, as a volunteer in charge of Information and Training aimed at French volunteers. When I came back to France, I wanted to continue working in the development field. So I took a Master’s degree in Communication, then I studied Sociology of Development while working for an NGO. I got married too, I had two children, and then I went back, with my whole family, to Mali, where we stayed for five years.
2. Would you define yourself as a Nature writer?
It’s really at the heart of my work. In fact, I try to mix the craft of a writer to a qualitative approach of sociology. A medium like “The Book of the Imraguen,” is a magnificent way of doing my job. I feel more like a spokesperson than a penholder! I try to be a part of sustainable development through people, inhabitants, and I try to make their words and even their emotions come closer to the surface. I create books for these people… especially the one on the Imraguen. It’s their book, which is why I chose this title.
3. Have you written other books on this subject?
Many years ago, I was an Associate Researcher at the RDI, working on a program dealing with the interior delta of the Niger River; the photographer I was working with and I went and met the people living in those floodplains; I listened to what they thought about the program, and I wrote a book on the subject… one could call it popularization of science – although I don’t like the word. Later, the UICN contacted me and asked me to do the same kind of thing in Cameroon, a kind of crossover of human groups living on floodplains. But this time, I wanted to work with local school kids who were members of Nature Clubs. We gave them disposable cameras. Some of them proved to be excellent photographers!
4. How did you hear about the Banc d’Arguin? And about the Imraguen?
The FIDA, the Foundation of the Banc d’Arguin, is a partner of UICN. I suppose they liked my previous work. So they suggested a somewhat similar format, but this time we were going to compare the fishermen of the West African Coast: the Bijagos, the Imraguen and the Saloum fishermen! A huge endeavor! And then, for various reasons, the subject matter got restricted to just the Imraguen. The project took two years, during which I carried out four missions to the Banc d’Arguin, in total immersion. It took some time for me to travel, understand, collect, mature. I didn’t think the women would enjoy so much freedom of speech…I felt immediately at ease.
Interviews would take so much time...It’s very hot… you drink tea… One night, as I went to bed, I realized I had drunk 21 cups of tea that day! I told myself it was time to stop and start writing, even though it was hard for me to just take out my notebook! All in all, I think I spent two months and a half there. This book is a collaborative communications project. I gave the women and the fishermen cameras…in between data collecting missions, I’d have the photos printed on A4 paper and people would comment and choose the best pictures.
5. Publications on the Banc d’Arguin tend to focus on its natural heritage. But in your book, you yield the floor to the Imraguen, the inhabitants of the Banc d’Arguin.
Exactly. I did it on purpose. It’s true that publications on the Banc are often historical. I think they are kind of angelic, too idealized: fishing in symbiosis with dolphins…I tried to avoid this kind of classic stuff. I wanted to enter the everyday life of the Imaraguen, to understand their paradoxes, as they live tucked between nature and city. They perfectly symbolize the pros and the cons of living in protected areas… areas not always protected in the direction of the inhabitants. They make us question the more general problem of land: to whom does it belong? I am very proud of the foreword, written by Abdou, a professor in Sociology, who talks about this very point.
6. Do you know Sidy Ely, our champion, and his initiatives?
I do know him! I even interviewed him! He had lots of ideas! We talked a lot about the welcoming of tourists. It was very interesting. He was very curious, had lots of ideas and energy!
7. Precisely, are there any initiatives on the Banc that you particularly like in an environmental point of view?
Setting up a shipyard on site, to rehabilitate the “lanche” as the primary means to fish was an excellent idea! It has provided an alternative to the interdiction to fish with an engine, has created a high quality craftsmanship and know-how, and illustrated a useful and rich North-South exchange of experience.
8. Our future is green! Do you think your book and an initiative like Ecofund can have a positive impact on the protection of the environment?
A book is a book, and a website a website, but I really believe in this kind, among others, of links between people from here and from elsewhere, from the South and from the North, from the water and from the land, from the desert and from cities. The more we multiply places where exchanges can occur, the more we provide platforms to those who don’t normally have one in today’s communication landscape, the better for everyone!
9. What will your next book or article be about?
I would love to write a collaborative book with the inhabitants of the Sine-Saloum, in Senegal. If an NGO or an institution wants to contribute, I’m ready to go! I’ve also just finished writing a children’s book titled “The Odyssey of Houmarou”, an African version of Homer’s texts and it takes place along the Niger River. The Pantheon is made of divinities from the Fulani, Yoruba, Bambara and Songhaï people… my co-writer Antoine Barral took charge of the Illiad.
In a different genre, I’m finishing a guide on the integrated management of natural resources for Members of Parliament and Elected Representatives of the seven coastal countries from Mauritania to Sierra Leone, Cap Vert included. The guide was an initiative of UICN Senegal. I also have a collection of short stories in the works, based in Africa, as always.
Aux Editions Punctum: Bamako, là (2006)
Aux Editions Alternatives : Avoir Vingt Ans à Bamako (1999)
Aux Editions IRD: Vivre et Travailler dans le Delta du Fleuve Niger au Mali (2000)
Aux Editions UICN : Waza Logone, Histoires d’Eau et d’Hommes. Vivre dans la Plaine Inondable de Waza Logone au Cameroun (2002)
Dear Ecofund friends, we wish you a happy New Year 2012!
2011 has been our launching year. Ecofund is a community of champions who act in concrete manner to protect our biodiversity. Six months after the launch, our community counts 390 friends from all around the world and is growing steadily.
39 of you have donated EUR 2.500 to the project of our Senegalese champion, Augustin, who wants to protect 32 hectares of a beautiful Casamance forest (equivalent to 64 football fields!). Follow the building of the forest enclosure online.
At present our Mauritanian champion, Sidi, and his association of eco-guides, still need your financial support, which will help to protect migratory birds in the Banc d’Arguin, a natural world heritage in Mauritania. Under the ecoproject section “Updates”, you can learn more about Sidi and his beach cleaning events; and contact him directly!
On our Ecoblog, you find more eco-events, and thanks to our articles, films, and photos, you will discover often little known world of nature. Do not miss extracts from a Book by Marie-Laure de Noray-Dardenne, which takes you on an immersional journey to Sidi’s home in the National Parc Banc d’Arguin.
So, when it comes to find a good idea for a presents and gifts in 2012, be inspiring! Instead of buying the 10th fragrance voucher for your family & friends, make a donation in their name, and we send you the below certificate to offer: with only 5 euros, you can protect a couple of Eurasian Spoonbills on the Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania!
Last but least, in 2011 at the marge of the 17th international conference on climate change COP17 in Durban, Ecofund was awarded the Second Prize in West Africa in the Apps4Africa competition organized by the American Department of State. Apps 4 Africa is a pan-African competition with the goal of promoting creative Web and mobile technical solutions to face local environmental challenges.
Dear friends, in 2012, we will introduce to you new champions, new ecoprojects and new ecopartners. In 2012, we will also launch our geolocalized forum that will give all of you a voice, in order to address climate change challenges in time.
In 2012, let’s continue to spread the word and keep on building our Ecofund community of champions for a green future!
Your Ecofund Team
Ibrahim Ould Mami Nagle has been Chief of the village of R'Gueiba since 2005. A few months after his appointment, he described how, in spite of himself, his responsibilities became obligation, depicting life in this small town.
"During the lifetime of my predecessor, I played a small role as deputy. I accompanied him to town, he would ask my advice. At his death, we gathered to decide who would replace him. Me, I proposed a cousin of the late chief, older than me, but he flat-out refused. The villagers said, "We want the chief to have been born in and a current resident of R'Gueiba." Of those eligible, there were two old men and me. As it was difficult for the two old men to travel, everyone agreed to my appointment. I agreed on condition that I would make no decision without consulting the villagers. Women are very influential in the choice of chief. I am the youngest village chief in Banc d'Arguin, if one does not count M'Barek, the son of Barka Agadir who governs with his mother. I was born in 1959, just before independence.
I never went to school, but I want to develop education here. We also need a health care center. Education, health and water are our three main problems. For water, we are still waiting the opening of the desalination unit (which we call survey). We can’t use it before its inauguration with that of Iwik... For this, it must wait until the survey in Iwik is completed! But I am concerned about the water quality. Some say it is still a little salty, which can strain the kidneys. It would not be good for older people ... It's hard to live a village without water. This is what hurts me the most.
It's a shame because the site is beautiful and life here is healthy and simple. Here, the sea is different from the sea at other villages. The water is immediately deep, it's almost a port. It's convenient to board, disembark, do laundry and dishes. It is a strategic fishing point for mullet and croaker, and the sea is less dangerous than elsewhere.
The restrictions imposed by the Park are for the good of the Banc d'Arguin, for our common good. I agree with limiting the number of lanches. Eighty working lanches are actually sufficient if one wants to keep the splendor of the ocean. Any more would be bad for the ecosystem.The ancients had a fishing calendar very respectful of nature, long before the country even existed.
“I have always used film as social critique. I have had such moments of absolute wonder, so many! Among the most magical was one scene in particular. Using my camera, I followed a cuttlefish couple for a week, a 10 pound male, a 3 pound female. The same couple in the same place for a week. I watched as the female hesitated between two or three sites where she could lay her eggs, and then finally as she chose the perfect location: clean, well-protected from predators, sheltered from strong currents. I watched as the male followed the female, watched as she accepted his seed. I saw these living creatures, both powerful and delicate, so-called primitive and unintelligent, able to act and reproduce their species in perfect harmony with the natural environment.
“There are also those intense moments when I found myself in places where man had never set foot, and when I felt an emotion as strong as the first time man walked on the moon. When you enter place like this, there is such a feeling of beauty! It's magnificent!"
Mostly, Haidar films alone with his camera, staying a good week, living with people, talking and sharing with them. It is only after some time he begins shooting, because trust has been established. "In Senegal, he says, if you film people in their daily lives for two or three months, a relationship of truth emerges. You ask them questions, they will respond."
Like with his film on fishing methods. By winning the trust of the fishermen, Haidar filmed fishing techniques that were particularly devastating: monofilaments, too narrow mesh nets that trap young fish, or lost nets clogging the ocean continuing to catch fish for years, does not benefit anything or anyone. Once the film is completed, Haidar returns to see its subjects.
"Is what you see right?” The films always provokes a debate. "It's important, all this time spent with them. It necessarily makes the process longer, because if the villagers involved in the degradation do not own the project, it will never work. Slowly, together, we discover how to solve the problem." And Haidar adds: "It is essential for them to see. The picture is proof."