Check out my NEW blog at

October 1st, 2010

So, I have graduated from Wooster! But, that doesn’t mean you cannot follow me as I embark into the “REAL WORLD”!

Check out my new adventures and new job as an English teaching assistant in Tours, France at

50,000 words and 152 pages later….I’M DONE!!! #135!!!

March 12th, 2010


I just turned in my Senior Independent Study Project to the Registrar’s Office about 20 minutes ago! I am done!

3:22PM: Leave my room to print off IS at Copy Services with Joyce.

3:32PM: Flashdrive does not work.

3:35PM: Running back to my dorm to save my IS on another flashdrive.

3:40PM: Joyce begins printing three copies of my IS!

3:47PM: My three copies of IS are printed. I use $22.80 of my printing money.

3:52PM: Heading to the bookstore to get my copies bound. Cost of binding $9.40.

3:57PM: Copies are bound and I am ready to head to the Registrar’s Office.

4:07PM: Waiting for Kaitlyn to get her copies bound.

4:10PM: To the Registrar’s Office!


This is going to be my last FULL DAY of IS work!!!

March 11th, 2010

I am in the last 30 hours of IS work!!!

Well, I am at 41,000 words and 145 pages…

March 10th, 2010

It’s SPRING BREAK at Wooster!!! But, I am not in sunny California with my friends…instead I am working on finishing up my Senior Independent Study project (IS). As many of you may already know, I am looking at sustainable development in Senegal.

The title of my project is “A Local Practice or a Western Imposition: A Case Study of Sustainable Development in Senegal”. I am looking at the relationship between defining and understanding the idea of sustainability and how it relates to the conceptualization of practices. It’s been quite an amazing journey….but I just want to be done!

Spring Break has been enjoyable for the most part. I have been able to sleep in and go to bed at a reasonable hour. I make myself breakfast, lunch, and dinner and go to the gym every day. It’s been wonderful.

It’s been WAY TOO LONG!!!

February 3rd, 2010

Well, I feel like I should start this blog by introducing myself again…IT HAS BEEN WY TOO LONG!

All is well and classes are well under way. This semester I am taking three classes (Introduction to Sculpture, War and Peace in Film, French Phonology), as well as working on my Independent Study. Everything is going really well, except for the fact that the “IS-ticker” is ticking quite quickly now! My advisors would like a final rough draft in hand by February 28, 2010! That is in 26-days from now…and 47-days from IS MONDAY! I am no where near completion, though I do have 87-pages of IS written….WOW!!!

Overall, my Independent Study project is going pretty well. I mean it is definitely stressful and a lot of work, but it has taught me a lot about prioritizing and staying on top of things/homework/etc. As far as my project goes I am looking at the relationship between defining and understanding sustainable development and the way that it is conceived and approached in Senegal, West Africa. I had some incredible interactions/interviews while I was in Senegal over winter break…and I am ready to hit the ground running with my case study an analysis of my findings!

On another note, I am trying to enjoy all the joys of being a college student. My friends and I are spending more time together and are dreading the prospects of graduating and leaving a place we have grown to call HOME! The other night we all watched “The Hurt Locker” and just “vegged” in my room for hours! We are going to miss the luxuries of just hanging out and relaxing. When somebody says that college is the best four years of your life…they are not lying to you. These past seven semesters have been incredible.

Well, I am going to head to bed now. It is late and Timkin Science Library is getting too quiet (and its the quiet library on campus). Let me sign off and leave you all with this picture below!

College is INCREDIBLE!

This is it! Last semester at Wooster!

January 14th, 2010

Well, 7 semesters later (or 3.5 years later)…THIS IS IT! I am in the home stretch of my undergraduate experience at The College of Wooster!

VISIT TO: Ker Momar Sarr with Abdou Sarr ’81

January 7th, 2010

Abdou Sarr is a graduate of The College of Wooster (Class of 1981) and was an International Relations and Cultural Area Studies (Latin America) major. He was recognized by President Henry J. Copeland at graduation as the first francophone to receive honors. He studied abroad in Colombia during his time at Wooster and was the founder of Africa week (along with two Kenyans). Again, Gary Engelberg (Director of ACI) put me in contact with Abdou, who currently lives in Ker Momar Sarr with his family. The fact that he was a graduate of The College of Wooster and is doing development work with aquaculture and fisheries is purely coincidental…

I spent three days and two nights in Ker Momar Sarr with Abdou and his family. I had the opportunity to have multiple conversations with him about his work in and with development projects and fisheries, as well visit a couple of sites that he is working on in the area. Abdou has been working in development for a very long time. He started development work with a nine-month food alimentation/distribution project that turned into a nine-year long endeavor. He currently is very interested in creating a sustainable farm in the village, using the resources of the Lac de Guiers, as well as his knowledge and imagination/creativity. He said, “I want to work with the people. Working with people is the only way to help a population; it does not help to sit in an air-conditioned office in Dakar, the United States, or the European Union and wait for a report.”


Abdou wants to have his own farm, in which each part of the farm produces a good, but also is linked to/ helping another good. He spoke about having fish, chickens, and crops. Each of these three goods would bring in money at a different time of the year; Abdou said, “too many people in Senegal depend on one source of income, I want to show this community that you can diversify. Diversification is key. Not just watermelon. Not just tomatoes. Not just one means of making money.” He sees the chickens’ droppings being used as fertilizer for his crops and the basis for feed to feed his fishing stocks. The water from his fishing basins can be connected to an irrigation system for his crops, in which the water can be circulated from basins to land. He truly believes that rural communities do not have to me dependent on one source of income.

Abdou said, “The hardest thing for people to do in Senegal est de changer la manière dont ils pensent et font leurs travails. Si on change la façon dont quelqu’un fait son travail, on peut développer.” However, he explained that it is very difficult to stop and change what you have been doing for your entire life. “Il est difficile parce que beaucoup de personnes n’ont pas les moyens à changer.”

Abdou has completed a comprehensive plan for his idea. He has formally submitted it to a couple of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Ministry of Agriculture, the British Embassy, and hopes to solicit more interest. He told be how an NGO visited his project site the other day and said that “They were very interested in what I was doing here; they said that it is something new that they have not seen before. They were excited and said they would call back in one week.”

With Abdou’s project, there are many parts that must be completed for it to work. His proposal states his project will cost about 10,000,000 CFA (20,000 USD), of which he can provide about 1/10th himself. Currently, he has built fishing cages that are on the Lac de Guiers and purchased 3,000 tilapia fingerlings (100,000 CFA). The fishing cages are on the Lac de Guiers right now, but he hopes to move them to another site when he has the means.


When I arrived on Sunday, Abdou and his entire family were in the process of making fish feed. They were making fish feed from dried fish parts and wheat bran. Abdou told me that he dried fish parts are not purchased, but they are left behind from fishing markets that are in the in the village periodically. He said that instead of the dried fish parts going to waste, he collects the parts and uses them to make his fish feed. His family was pounding and grinding the dried fish parts, which would be later mixed with water and wheat bran. Immediately, this resourcefulness was very striking to me; it was apparent that some people (like Abdou) were thinking in the direction of conservation and re-use. Over the course of my three days in Ker Momar Sarr, I watched how every morning he would pull the feed into the sun to let it dry into balls/pellets.

Later in the day (Sunday), Abdou showed me another aspect of his fishery. As I previously mentioned, he has built cages to raise tilapia fingerlings in. We went to a part of the Lac de Guiers to see these cages (4 total, of which two are functional and in the water).


Abdou said, “Il y a deux problèmes avec la pêche au Sénégal; il y a la pêche marine et la pêche continental.” He explained that in the area of the Lac de Guiers, the problems are continental fishing; however, we spoke about fishing problems in general.

With coastal fishing, according to Abdou, the problems are the international accords that have been signed with the European Union (“il n y a pas de pêcheur qui pense que des accords sont une bon idée”), over fishing, pirogues getting hit by larger industrial boats, and nets/materials that destroy everything in the ocean.

“Over fishing is a problem in Senegal. For example, there were times when Russian ships would fish in Senegalese waters and catch fish so that they could stock the oceans by them. These ships had pools on them.” Over fishing has led to people losing their lives because of fishing. Abdou said that pirogues will sail out into the ocean and get hit my larger industrial ships; fisherman know that the biggest fish and catches are far off the coast. Pirogues will also get caught in large industrial fishing nets. Abdou also explained that there are many fisherman that use nets that scrape the ocean floors of its resources. “Mollusks and all types of fish are wiped out; there is no way that fish can reproduce in destroyed reefs and sea beds.” He also explained that with these types of nets there is so much waste too. “By the time that the nets are taken out of the water to see if there is anything that can be thrown back, the bad fish is already dead. The dead fish are not used and simply tossed.”

Abdou said that the national government has attempted to establish reserves for fish in parts of the coastal waters in Senegal; however, there are many problems with the enforcement and regulation of these areas. Thus, they have been very unsuccessful. “Fisherman will do anything to get fish and make money. It is all about making money, not about conserving the levels of fish.” Furthermore, according to Abdou, international accords have not helped the over fishing problems either; “Though there are limits on the amount of fish that each country can export, many countries do not tell the truth about how many kilograms they have on their boats. There is no real way to tell either.” Abdou also mentioned that local governments and communities have attempted to enforce regulations, but enforcement is also a problem. He said that some parts of Senegal have been successful, and that in these places (islands of the coast), there are months when fisherman are not allowed to fish. However, not all localities are like this.

I asked Abdou if over fishing was really a problem in Senegal, probing the idea that maybe it was a Western view. Abdou said, “Il est un problème ici, au Sénégal. Pour des personnes, qui dites qu’il n’y a pas un problème, they are not paying attention. Il y a beaucoup d’émissions, de programmes, et d’actualités.” This was a clear contrast to Amadiou who believed that no problem existed in the coastal waters of Senegal.

Senegalese coastal fishermen also illegally fish off the Mauritanian coasts. Abdou said, “The waters off the Mauritanian coasts have more fish than Senegal coastal waters because Mauritanians do not fish as well as the Senegalese. Many Senegalese fishermen fish in these waters without appropriate permits/licenses. If they are caught, then the are arrested. Many Senegalese fishermen take this risk because they can come back with a lot of fish…to make a lot of money.”

With continental fishing, there are many problems as well (of which many overlap). Abdou explained that his biggest problem with fishing has been getting the appropriate materials to fish. He said that just like fisherman on the sea, there are problems with accessing the right pirogues and nets to catch the best and most profitable types of fish. He said that not until recently, the national government did not recognize the fact that continental fishermen were having similar problems to their coastal counterparts. However, the government has still done very little to actually help out fishermen.

Abdou stated that one of the biggest problems with sweet-water continental fishing is typha. He said that unlike fishermen on the sea, continental fishermen have many problems with aquatic plants that are extremely invasive. He said, “il n’est pas assez de solutions pour le combattre.” Typha started to inhibit continental fishing in the Lac de Guiers after the barrage de Diama was constructed. Prior to the dam’s construction, water that had a much higher saline content flowed into the lake. Abdou said this was good because there was no typha and the fish types were better (“Les Sénégalais préfèrent des pêches qui vient du mer”); however, it was also bad because access to the lake was greater.

Abdou explained that the region has gone through a lot of problems, from the construction of the barrage de Diama to the lake drying up completely. There have been attempts to stock the lake with fish, but the opening and closing of the dam lets the fish out into the Senegalese River Valley.


“People must thinking creatively and change their mentality. If people want to see progress and development, they must be willing to do things differently.” Abdou expressed how gracious he was for the fact that hi education at The College of Wooster made him a greater thinker. He said that more people need to be able to think outside of the box. He explained to me that he sees four types of people in the development world. There is the inventor who takes new things to places and begins to implement them, but never finishes. There is the copy-cat that sees one good idea and then tries it himself. There is the waiter who sees if a project will work before they decide whether or not to take action. And, there is the person that is stuck in the old way, not willing to change. “On doit changer, et si la change est petit à petit…small is better.”


I visited Abdou’s 5 hectares of land during my visit. He continued to explain to me that he wants to have up to twenty fish basins, and that the four that he currently has are just a start to get the ball rolling. “The government will take away your land if you have not showed progress in two years time.” Abdou explained to me that if you request land in Senegal, and it is not already taken, you will be granted a piece of land.

So far on his land he has four basins dug and is in the process of having a fence built. He needs 100,000 CFA for the appropriate piping that will connect his basins to the Lac de Guiers. he already has the pump that will be located next to the well that he plans on digging. Abdou explained in depth his project idea to me. He even drew out his plan in the sand.


When asked about whether or not sustainable development was thought about in Senegal, Abdou said that yes it was. “Ten to fifteen years ago, the idea was not even considered. People did not care about cutting down trees or burning bushes, but now people are being much more conscience.” The national government has put in place a variety of organizations and ministries that feed directly into the ideas of sustainable development. Abdou told me about a reforestation project (un projet de reboisement) that he had worked on in the area. “The desert was coming before and the projet de reboisement was supposed to help stop the degradation.” He told me that he planted a bunch of seeds but, unfortunately, cows just at them; luckily, “the seeds finally germinated when the seeds left the cows stomach, and now there are a lot of trees because of the manure.”

Abdou spoke about Le Service de Forets and the Minister of the Environment and their roles in sustainable development implementation in Senegal. He told me about how people are fined and jailed if they are caught doing anything that would lead to environmental degradation. It is the responsibility of local governments to enforce regulations like bush burning laws. “If bushes are burned and a culprit is not caught, then the local leaders are jailed. So, the local leaders find out who harmed the environment now. Before, this was not the case.”

Bottom-line, Abdou said, “Understanding that the environment is important is one thing, but to actually do something is another. There is a problem with understanding and management in Senegal. Management is the biggest problem.” There is no way to enforce regulations and limited means/funds that have inhibited the full potential of sustainable development. Furthermore, Abdou said that the government is corrupt. “There is no money for the people. There are so many international donors that give money to Africa, but by the time it makes it past the national level, then the regional level, and then the local level, there is little to no money left. Their (government) faces are so fat, and now there is that f***ing statue that Wade spent millions on in Dakar! Nobody likes that f***ing thing; he could have fed and helped so many people, but now we have a stupid bronze statue of a man, a woman, and a baby. What are we going to do, eat it!? À obtenir l’argent est le problème le plus grave.”

VISIT TO: Ker Momar Sarr with Moustapha Fall

January 6th, 2010

During my three day, two night visit to Ker Momar Sarr (Northern Senegal, northeast of Louga), I had the wonderful opportunity to interview a continental fisherman named Moustapha Fall. Moustapha has been a fisherman for all his life in the village of Ker Momar Sarr, where his grandparents passed down traditional, artisanal fishing practices to his parents and him. He currently fishes with his uncle every single day on the Lac de Guiers.

The Lac de Guiers is one of Senegal’s sole freshwater water reservoirs in the lower Senegalese River basin during the dry season, with a mean depth of 2m, length of 50km, and a breadth of 6km (Varis et al., 2006). Having this conversation with Moustapha was extremely eye-opening and an incredible cultural experience because I was able to contrast it with the conversations that I had with Amadiou (who fishes on the ocean). There were both similarities and differences between the conversation that I had with Moustapha and Amadiou.

Moustapha expressed that there are a wide range of problems with fishing on the Lac de Guiers. He said that the biggest problem is “amuma matériels” (no materials), or the fact that he does not have the means or money to buy appropriate materials for fishing. He said that he is very limited by what he can catch and where he can fish because of how expensive fishing materials are. He said that he has to resort to using the equipment that he has because it is all that he can afford, though the equipment is not at all adequate for his fishing practices. Moustapha also said that another problem besides not having the materials to fish was typha. Typha is a fresh water plant that has taken over the lake since the creation of the barrage de Diama in the Senegalese River Valley. Typha gives a place for the fish to hid, but also makes it very inaccessible for fisherman to get to the middle parts of the lake where most of the fish are.

Throughout my entire conversation, Moustapha echoed the same idea, the idea that fishing was a means of survival. The more fish that you caught, the more money that you could make. “Pourquoi tu fais la pêche?” I asked Abdou Sarr to translate from French to Wolof for me. Moustapha would respond in Wolof and Abdou would tell me “Il fait la pêche afin qu’il peut vivre, pour qu’il nourrit sa famille, pour qu’il gagne un peu d’argent.” When you have been a fisherman for your entire life, and fishing has been in your family for years, you fish. This was made very clear to me in speaking with Moustapha.

Moustapha continued to explain that fishing is difficult when you do not have materials. He explained how he takes fishing nets out on loan, using them to fish for fish that he sells to pay back the net. Moustapha explained that the size of nets varies in length and width of string, and that a good net costs a lot of money. “Amuma xalis” (no money) was a frequent Wolof phrase that he would say. In addition to the expensive materials, Moustapha also explained how it costs 15,000 CFA (30 USD) for a fishing license on the lake if you are Senegalese and 200,000 CFA if you are a foreigner. He explained how these licenses were good for one year only and that if you were caught fishing without a permit, then you are fined and arrested. Moustapha told me how there were two Malians that were arrested for not having the appropriate licenses two-three weeks ago.

Moustapha told me that he does not fish with a permit and takes the risk of being caught. When you can barely make 1,000-3,000 CFA (2-6 USD), you are not going to pay 15,000 CFA for a permit. Because he does not have a permit, he cannot fish during the daytime. Moustapha told me that he fishes during the night. He lays his nets in the evening when it is dark out and there are no officials on the lake checking for permits. At about 3-4AM, he returns to his nets to see if he has caught anything. On a good day he said that he makes about 3,000-5,000 CFA (6-10 USD), but that these days are rare. He said that he is luck to catch one fish that will feed his family, and maybe a second one to sell.

When he does catch a lot of fish (pointing to a 8-10 gallon bucket) he will sell his fish to people in the village of Richard Toll. He explained that a truck will come to Ker Momar Sarr and he will sell the fish directly to them. However, another problem that he has is that he has no means of conserving the fish. He does not have access to ice, so that the fish will not rot. Moustapha explained that many fishermen on the Lac de Guiers do not have the appropriate materials to conserve their catches.

Moustapha said that all he wants is to have materials. Abdou told me that he said that “S’il a des moyens à faire la pêche, comme un fils, un bon pirogue…il serais riche!” Again, materials mean more fish or bigger fish, which means more money. The idea of money being key was something that has been noted in all of my conversations. Money is a means of survival in Senegal. Moustapha said that the fishermen on the Lac de Guiers who have a permit and all the appropriate materials “amnañu xalis ak pêche” (have money and fish).

I was also interested in Moustapha’a views of the national government and their helpfulness or lack of helpfulness to the fishermen in the area. Moustapha said that the government is useless and that they make it more difficult for fishermen like him to catch fish and survive. He said that he tries to avoid regulations and does not follow the rules because he cannot afford to. Moustapha can do this because, according to Abdou, in Senegal there is a problem with enforcement of rules and regulations.

Moustapha and I also discussed the idea of whether or not there were problems with fishermen coming from other countries or other parts of Senegal and taking all the fish from the Lac de Guiers. He said that before the barrage de Diama, there were a lot of problems with fisherman coming from St. Louis to the Lac de Guiers. The Lac de Guiers used to have fish that came from the ocean before the dam was built, so many fisherman would make their way to the lake. It is no longer a problem though. He told me that there was once a group of fishermen from St. Louis that caught a fish that weighed 50kg; they sold it for 50,000 CFA to three families. Moustapha told me that he wants to be like those fisherman. He wants to have a good net that can catch the big fish.

Bottom-line, Moustapha spoke about fishing as a way to make money and survive. When asked about sustainable fishing practices, he said that he does not have any materials that overexploit the fishing populations like on the ocean. He said that the nets that used to scrape the lake floors of all types of fish are now illegal. He said that there are plenty of fish in the lake and that if in the future there are no fish, then, as he said “mangiy toog” (I am going to sit here).

Back in Dakar for three days…

January 5th, 2010

Well, I am back in Dakar after a wonderful visit to KER MOMAR SARR in Northern Senegal. After a 6 hour trip back into the city…I have finally taken a shower (after 2 days) and gotten re-situated. I will write more about my experience there soon!

Leaving Dakar for Lac de Guiers (Northern Senegal)

January 2nd, 2010

Well, I have definitely had enough of a “break” from researching. The past three days everything has been closed because of the New Year, so I have not been able to conduct any research. Instead I have been hanging out with another Wooster student, Lucy Plaugher, who also received Copeland Funding to return to Senegal. We have gone to the markets and had a beach day on Ile de Ngor. However, we are now both ready to get back to work! I will be leaving Dakar tomorrow morning for Northern Senegal and the Lac de Guiers. There is a gentleman who has been working on sustainable development and fishing in the area, so I am going to make the 4-5 hour journey tomorrow.

Just want to keep you all updated on my whereabouts in Senegal!


VISIT TO: Yara and Ouakam fishing villages with Amadiou Diallo

December 31st, 2009

Gary Engelberg (Director of ACI) contacted the man that supplies him with his fish, Amadiou Diallo, to take me around a couple of fishing villages in Dakar, Senegal. Gary gets his fish (thiouf, shrimp, etc.) from Amadiou about once a month and freezes it so that he will have the supplies he needs for preparing dishes (i.e. yassa poisson, chebujen). Amadiou is originally from St. Louis, where his mother, as well as younger brother and sister live. He has a wife and two kids (three and five years old) that live with him in Dakar.

Amadiou was extremely gracious for taking the time out of his busy day to take me to two fishing villages in Dakar. In Dakar there are a handful of fishing villages, which include: Ngor, Ouakam, Soumbédioune, Yara/Hann, and Yoff. Amadiou works at the Yara fishing village, located on the eastern coast of the Dakar peninsula. He is no longer a fisherman himself, but he mostly sells fish instead to locals. He explained to me that he has been in the fishing industry since 1986.

My journey started at about 11:30AM today. We took a taxi (1500 CFA) from SICAP Baobab to the Yara fishing village. In the village, Amadiou showed me the factories that make the ice, so that the fish will stay fresh; the market area where his friends and he sell fish; the beaches that women and children buy fish that are coming directly off the pirogues; and the gros bateaux that are from European countries like Switzerland, France, Spain, or n’import ou. Amadiou said “il y a toujours un mélange des pays qui font la pêche au Sénégal, il y a des Chinois, des Français, des Américains, et bien sur des Sénégalais.

My initial observations of the fishing village were how large it was and how much it did not smell of fish. When I was in St. Louis (the first time that I came to Senegal), I visited a fishing port and there was a very bad fish smell. Also, at this fishing village, every part of the fishing stage seemed to be present—from pirogue to fishing vendors. I saw men descending from pirogues selling fishing directly to women, whom would then resell the fish to others, as well as men taking Styrofoam boxes filled with fish to freezer trucks that would be taking fish into the heart of Senegal. There were small children gathering small fish that were falling out of fisherman’s hands and boxes; these small children were trying to sell these fish too. Amadiou told me that “des pêcheurs a fait la pêche depuis six heures du matin jusqu’au onze heure, et après le déjeuner, il y a des pêcheurs qui retournent à la mer pour faire la pêche encore jusqu’au le coucher du soleil.” Amadiou wakes up at 6AM every morning to get to the fishing village.

At the Yara fishing village all of the fisherman use pirogues. Most of the pirogues are smaller and go on daily fishing trips into the Atlantic Ocean; however, there are larger pirogues that will go on one to two week fishing trips, as well. Amadiou explained to me that on the smaller pirogues, there are usually 4-5 men that will use nets to catch smaller fish. he explained tha the most effective way to catch a lot of fish is with nets, though the fish are very small. I asked him if fisherman throw back any fish that are too small, and he respond by saying “il n’y a pas de type de pêche qui est plus petit à vendre. On vend tous les types de poisons et on utilise tous des tailles.” This is a huge difference from fishing practices back in the states, but it gets at the idea that in Senegal nothing will go to waste if it can make some money. The idea of making money to live was a very important insight that continually came up during this day visit. On the larger pirogues, there are as many as 20 men that will use nets, but also fishing rods to catch very large fish. Amadiou explained to me that “on doit faire doucement la pêche avec la canne à pêche, doucement, doucement, parce que si tu fait comme ça (making a jerking motion with his hands), le filet va casser.” He explained to me that the most effective way to fish is with a fishing rod because you can get the biggest fish and the biggest fish mean “tu va gagner plus d’argent.” I asked Amadiou how much a big fish would cost and he said that it depends on the type of fish and the size. He said the larger the fish, the more money that you will get. He also explained that the gros bateaux from other countries catch the biggest fish, but that it does not affect them too much. He said that as long as they can catch the amount of fish that is necessary to make enough money then everything is okay.

I asked Amadiou about the international fishing presence in Senegal, and he told me that there are a lot of international companies, but it is not a problem as long as they have a permit. Once they have a permit they are free to fish “comme ils veulent, sans problèmes.” He also said that they have limits on the amount that they can fish, but he had no idea about what the limits were set at. He alluded to the idea that international fisherman can fish as much as they want; however, they do not fish seven days a week, 365 days a year like the Senegalese. He said that foreign boats come and fish for one to two months and leave. Amadiou said that in Senegal there are times when fishing is the best; he said that in the winter months, like December and January, the fish come to the top parts of the water making it easier for fisherman to catch larger fishing stocks. In the warmer months, the water is too warm, so the fish go deeper in the water. However, in the end, he said “c’est la chance avec la pêche; il y a des jours quand j’ai plein des pêches et d’autres quand je n’ai pas des pêches…c’est la chance.” He made no reference to the fact that fisherman were over-fishing or that people were having trouble getting fish because there were lower levels of fish in the ocean. He simply believed that some days were just better than others for no particular reasons.

While I was at the Yara fishing village, I had the opportunity to speak with one of Amadiou’s friend (another fisherman). During our brief discussion, we spoke about the international community and the effects that other countries have on the Senegalese fishing industry. He spoke about previous incidents with China and the Soviet Union and how they would overexploit fish, but, he said that what the Chinese and Soviets used to do no longer exists. He told me how the Chinese and the Soviets would bring their large industrial boats into Senegalese coastal waters and leave them their for the entire year. He said that they would use large fishing nets and check on them every so often. He said that while the Chinese and Soviets were in the coastal waters that “ce n’est pas bon pour des Sénégalais et des pêcheurs.” He mentioned that the current trend is that Senegalese fisherman will bring fish from their pirogues to the large boats every so often. The fish is then taken directly to Europe after being chilled.

Furthermore, at the Yara fishing village, I had the opportunity to observe the way that fisherman sell the fish to the local women and the trucks that bring the fish into the interior portions of Senegal. Amadiou said that there is no fixed price for fish in Senegal, and that fisherman usually make about 20000 CFA a day by selling their fish. He said that fisherman split what they make from selling the fish. He also said that women and others who sell fish away from the coast make a decent amount of money as well. But, again, he stated that there is no exact amount because everything in Senegal is negotiated. Some large fish will sell for 50000 CFA or more.

After my visit to the Yara fishing village, we went took a taxi (2000 CFA) to the Ouakam fishing village. This fishing village is a lot smaller than Yara and is limited to smaller pirogues that go out and fish for a couple of hours and then return. This fishing village is located in a small alcove nestled between cliffs and La Mosquée de la Divinité. At this village there was not as much commotion and it appeared to be a lot more low-key. In the distance, there were no large industrial fishing boats and there were no vendors or women selling/buying fish. I had the opportunity to watch fisherman bring in their boats, as well as younger boys make the nets that are used for fishing. Amadiou told me that in this fishing village, they just use nets and fish for smaller fish. Since there are no large pirogues, the fisherman cannot go on weeklong fishing trips. However, it was interesting to go to this village because I saw a fisherman that was using a spear to fish. Amadiou told me that “c’est homme là-bas, il fait la pêche dans une manière la plus dangereuses.” He said that many men who choose to fish that way get their ankles bitten by fish. He also said at smaller fishing villages like this one, fisherman will not go out for two trips in one day like they do at the fishing village in Yara. Amadiou said that they go out in the morning or in the afternoon.

At this point in my day with Amadiou, I again tried to approach the idea of sustainable development in Senegal. It was interesting because “développement durable” meant nothing to Amadiou. I attempted to explain to him the idea of sustainable development and being conscience of the environment and future generations, but he simply responded, “ici, il n’y a pas des problèmes, au Sénégal, pas des problèmes.” I continued to explain to him that from an outsider looking in, that it appeared that fish were being over-fished in the region. I said that much of the world knows that the West African coast is one of the most plentiful fishing stocks in the world and that with all the fishing activity there could be problems in the future. He again said, “au Sénégal il n’y pas des problèmes.” He said that the sustainable development did not matter; he said “c’est la commerce, oui, c’est la commerce.” He said that everybody is in the commerce sector now because that is where all the money is. He even said that if you do really well in the commerce sector, maybe after working two to three years, you could be set for life. At this point, I had been with Amadiou for quite some time to understand that he, as well as every other fisherman, worked for the next day, not for five or ten years. He made it very clear that he worked to make money and never made any statements about not having fish in the future to eat or to fish.

Our conversation continued about how rich the West African coast was with fish. He told me that “Nous [des Sénégalais] sommes les meilleurs pêcheurs sur la cote, mais à la Mauritanie, il y a plusieurs de poisson. Plein de Sénégalais font le voyage à la Mauritanie à faire la pêche. C’est très bien là-bas.” From this point, I asked him about whether or not other countries besides Senegal fished off the coasts of Mauritania too. He said that yes there were, and began to speak more about the international presence in Dakar. He told me that “Nous faisons la pêche comme nous voulons, des pêcheurs internationaux comme ils veulent. Il y a une relation ici entre des Français et des Sénégalais, des Chinois et des Sénégalais, des Espagnols et des Sénégalais. Des Français aident des Sénégalais et des Sénégalais aident des Français. Il y a des Sénégalaises sur des gros bateaux de la France. Il y a des Sénégalais qui paient des Français pour assister à faire la pêche, mais bien sûr, il y a des pêcheurs français qui paient des pêcheurs sénégalais.”

I further probed this relationship with Amadiou and asked about whether there were any formal agreements that were made with these countries that established these interactions. He said that there were no formal agreements and that the only formal thing with fishing was getting a permit to fish. Though, Amadiou also stated that there are fishermen that fish for themselves. He said that it is all about being able to feed your family and “gagne d’argent.” He even pointed out three small children that were helping their father move a boat onto the shore of the Ouakam fishing village. He said that “la pêcherie commence comme ça et peu à peu ils devinent des pêcheurs.” This was striking to me because there was an intergenerational emphasis with fishing, but around the idea of being able to teach kids how to fish. There was no reference to if they would actually have fish to fish though.

After this trip with Amadiou to the fishing villages of Yara and Ouakam, I had a much better understanding of whom the Senegalese fishing population was and what the process of getting fish from the sea to a market or a dinner table was. However, the best insight from this experience was that “développement durable” might mean nothing to the Senegalese. Though I cannot generalize from one experience with on individual, I have a better idea as to what really matters in Senegal. There is an understanding that people must help future generations, but there is no consideration necessarily for the environment. In countries like Senegal, it appears that people work for the next day, not the next five years. If in five years there are no fish left in the coastal regions that are currently begin fished on, then the Senegalese will most likely move to another industry. As Amadiou said, “il n’y a pas des problèmes au Sénégal” and “tu dois gagner d’argent; c’est bien d’avoir l’argent.

Pictures from Dakar, Senegal to come….

I almost forgot…OUR HALLOWEEN PICTURE! :)

November 17th, 2009

Look at all of us....just acting out our costumes!

Getting ready for dinner at Mary Karen’s loft!

November 17th, 2009

So, I am sitting in my room right now, waiting for Kaitlyn to drive us to Mary Karen’s (Vice President of Enrollment) loft in downtown Wooster. I am so excited! It has been a very long time since I have wrote anything on my blog…and A LOT has happened! However, I do not have too much time to write before I leave.

This week is International Education Week on campus and there are a lot of fun activities going on around campus. Tomorrow is the “Flavors of the World” dinner, which celebrates the five Ambassador’s countries and their food in a 15 course meal! Last Saturday was the kick-off for this week; a bunch of us went to the international culture show. There is so much stuff going on leading up to Thanksgiving Break.

On Saturday, I leave for Chicago for a Model UN Conference. This year, we are representing Zimbabwe and Jordan; I am representing Zimbabwe in the World Food Programme. I cannot wait to leave; we are staying on Michigan Avenue in a historic hotel. It will be so nice to get off campus for a few days. Furthermore, my friend Lindsay just got back from France, where she used Copeland Funding to do research for her IS. My friend Stephani leaves at 5AM tomorrow to head for Russia. We all love COPELAND FUNDING!

Well, that is all for now. I am clearly rambling with no purpose! 🙂

November 6th, 2009


Independent Study an academic black hole?

October 28th, 2009

I am well into my Independent Study (IS) Project on sustainable development in Senegal, West Africa. But, it seems that the 4-5 hours that I put into IS every day are being eaten up by an “academic black hole”. What exactly does this mean? Well, it seems that I am working so hard on IS and I am getting no where. Hopefully, this is what is happening with everybody?

Next »