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 Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora