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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid