News / Africa

Eco-Kids in Senegal Adopt Earth-Friendly Fuel Project

Baol Environment students, Diourbel, Senegal, December 5, 2011.
Baol Environment students, Diourbel, Senegal, December 5, 2011.
Amanda Fortier

Diourbel is a semi-desert region in Senegal that has suffered the combined effects of climate change, deforestation, waste mismanagement and endemic poverty. But, in the city of Diourbel, 50 bright, young students are making a positive environmental contribution by adopting a recycling project that provides a cost-effective, alternative fuel source for cooking.

Learning basics

Awa Deme and Bamba Ngom crouch down next to a large plastic bin, and begin churning a sloppy brown and white pulp with their tiny hands. In the background, their instructor, Ibrahima Faye, coaches them. The other young boys and girls sit perched on their chairs, clambering for their own turns to get their hands into this goopy paper paste.

It is Saturday morning at Baol Environment, a green oasis sheltered from the scorching heat and whirling gusts of dust and sand so common to Diourbel.  While most kids are at home, sleeping or playing, this energetic group of young school children is gathered for their weekly meeting. It is a type of environment club that involves some of the city’s best students, between the ages of 9 and 11, from five local schools. Here they learn the basics in trash collecting, recycling and reusing.

Baol Environment

Today the kids are making paper briquettes. It is a simple recipe of waste paper, peanut shells, sawdust and water. The mix is placed into a metal press, formed into rectangular paper bricks, and set on the roof to dry in the sun. Using old rice bags, the children collect the waste paper from their schools, homes and yards and haul them into Baol Environment. Here the kids rip and shred the paper, and finally transform it into little brown bricks that replace charcoal, gas and wood for cooking. The cost of making a single brick is little more than a few cents, and each one burns long enough to prepare a local meal of rice and fish.

April Muniz, a Peace Corps volunteer with Baol Environment, is helping with the paper briquette project.

Students tear paper before making paper briquettes, Diourbel, Senegal, December 5, 2011.
Students tear paper before making paper briquettes, Diourbel, Senegal, December 5, 2011.

“I think what makes this project unique is that we’re trying to combine a lot of elements and make it a holistic approach to environmental work," said Muniz. "Our paper briquette project is one small project that we are doing within the eco-ecole program, but it is one that covers a lot of bases. It covers the issue of trash in our environment. It covers the issue of the importance of recycling. It covers the issue of reforestation. It covers the issue of alternative fuel sources.

"So it is a project that has been able to wrap up a lot of the concepts that we have been trying to teach into one very tangible project that kids can get their hands on," continued Miniz. "They can stick their hands into a bucket of water, play together and really understand and be able to apply those concepts.”

Economy

Diourbel is in the center of Senegal’s agricultural basin. But it is an area that has suffered since massive droughts swept through the region in the late 1970s and 1980s, reducing the staple millet and groundnut crops. Many people here continue to live off less than a couple dollars a day, and with the costs of fuel rising, they can easily spend the same amount on charcoal as they do on rice.

Ibrahima Faye is the president of the Baol Environment and has been living in the region of Diourbel for 35 years.

Faye says kids look at what is happening around them and they watch how their parents behave and how they live. Their parents have lived through at least two or three cycles of dry spells that have completely changed customs in the region. This means that these kids have no recollections of what Diourbel was like in the past. And what they have found is an incredible lack of sanitation, disrespect for rules and a vicious level of poverty that has even forced families apart.

Trash in Diourbel

Today, Diourbel’s landscape is a barren sea of brown, dotted with colorful mounds of litter.  Waste management is a major problem throughout Senegal. But in Diourbel, particularly, there are not even garbage cans in the schools.

Moussa Diallo is a principal at one of the elementary schools in Diourbel and has 10 students involved in the Baol environment program.

Diallo says people here generally do not have a culture of managing garbage. It is not in their mind-set to properly dispose of trash. But even if this did start happening, they are confronted by another problem - how to get rid of it. Today it is actually the poor people who use their wagons and carts to move the garbage out.

The paper briquette project is still in its early stages, but the Baol environment team has big plans for its expansion. The group works with more than 500 women from surrounding villages, and hopes to introduce these paper bricks into their cooking practices as a healthier and cost-effective alternative - one that helps save trees and cleans up their environment.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More