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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs