Senegal sits on the westernmost hump of Africa, well below the Tropic of Cancer. It is hot and flat, about the size of Nebraska, 76,000 square miles. On the east, the Faleme River flows north and marks the border with Mali. The Faleme flows into the Senegal River which sweeps in a great arc to the northwestern corner of Senegal, defining the national border with Mauritania. The southern boundary with Guinea-Bissau and Guinea is an east-west line just south of the Casamance River. Just north of Casamance is Gambia, a micro-nation along the Gambia River encircled by Senegal. Next going north along the coast is the large delta of the Saloum River and adjacent estuaries (the Sine Saloum) with a growing resort industry. Thus, along the coast south of Dakar, the Casamance, Gambia, and Sine Saloum form large estuaries, mangroves, marshes, and mud-salt flats. (See "Vegetation and Land Use of Senegal" and "Senegal Population Clusters.")
Then comes the "La Petite Côte" and the basalt rock Cap Vert peninsula with the Dakar metro area. Above Dakar the big coast runs in a long curve of dunes and humid depressions ("niayes") up to the delta of the Senegal River and the old port town of St. Louis.
Most of the rest of Senegal is a sandy plain of savanna--grassland with scattered trees--under 100 meters in elevation. With so much savanna, distinctions can be made. There are eight kinds of savanna:
1. Dry shrub or bush savannas in the center (and a little elsewhere).
2. The very dry shrub-tree steppes of the north.
3. Shrub-tree savannas in the north east.
4. A narrow band of tree-woodland savanna across the middle east.
5. Steppe-savanna valleys along most northern drainages. These first five are the "Pastoral Domain," called the Ferlo, part of the Sahel where grazing has been the primary land use for centuries and population is sparse.
6. Savanna woodlands in south central, the "Eastern Transition Zone," with enough rain for some cotton and corn.
7. Denser savanna woodlands of the Shield Region, in the south east where foothills rise to about 1,600 feet and Niokolo Koba Park is located.
8. Denser savanna woodlands south of the Gambia River. These three plus woodland forest valleys along the southern drainages are sometimes lumped together as the Sudanic zone, after the French usage which applies to a transition zone south of the Sahel in West Africa.
The wettest area of woodland forests south of the Casamance River is
like Guinea. The large area of agricultural lands in the center west is
the Peanut Basin, or West-Central Agricultural Domain. Cultivation is moving
into the western part of the Eastern Transition Zone. The smallest but
most densely populated geographic area is Cap Vert. Administratively, the
nation is divided into 10 regions, 30 departments, and 90 arrondissements.
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Society: The Three Senegals
One way to interpret Senegal society is along a spectrum from rural tribesmen who speak only a native language to city people who speak only French. Along this spectrum, to simplify discussion, are three Senegals.
> The first Senegal is that of the rural peasant, poor and illiterate, but rich in culture and heritage, tracing back over centuries of subsistence grazing, fishing, and farming. They might be about 60 percent of the population and 15 percent of GDP.
> The second Senegal is the French (about 20,000 in Dakar) and the French-educated elite, who dominate the modern money economy and run the government, mostly urban and middle class by American standards. They might be about 10 percent of population and generate 35 percent of GDP.
> The third Senegal, the remaining 30 percent, is an emerging indigenous
urban business class, mainly in Dakar but also in Thiès, Kaolack,
and the provincial towns. It might produce about 50 percent of GDP. The
per capita income of $1,600 and literacy rate of 33 percent (from the U.S.
Mission's Briefing for the President) obscure the complex reality of a
subsistence rural sector of the first Senegal, the fully monetized second
Senegal, and the newly monetizing third Senegal.
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The First Senegal
The first Senegal has many ethnic groups, each with its own language and culture, and no one group in a majority. They usually do not speak French, just as the second Senegal does not usually speak a native language, and the third Senegal is generally bilingual. The Serene, a small ethnic group, have lost their original language yet retain several distinct customs. From largest to smallest are Wolof (North coast, Cap Vert, peanut basin), Pulaar (or Peul or Fula, on Senegal River and pastoralists in the north; others in the east), Serere (or Serer, in the Sine Saloum), Diola (in the Casamance), Bambara (near Mali), Mandingue (in the east), and Soninke (Senegal River). Other lists mention separately the Toucouleur (a dialect of Pulaar, on the Senegal River). In fact, every list of ethnic groups I read was a little different from the others. The ethnologue data base lists 39 tribal languages, or 38 if you don't count French. Several variations in spelling of the names and dozens of dialects exist, and many groups spill over into other countries, where they may be more numerous.
The biggest ethnicity is the Wolof (43 percent), and the Wolof language is a common lingua franca throughout the country, spoken by 71 percent. Wolof society has internal divisions similar to but not as strong as India's castes. Molly Melching, Ndànk Ndànk, An Introduction to Wolof Culture, "The Caste System in Wolof Society," has this to say.
Many people have told me that the caste system is no longer valid in modern society and that it in no way affects work or personal relationships as it did at one time, particularly in Dakar. Others have commented that to this day, the notion of caste is still prevalent in society and that without a knowledge of traditional social organization, it is difficult to understand attitudes and behavior of Senegalese in both their personal and professional lives.
I finally decided to include the chapter at the insistence of a Wolof friend who comes from the artisan's caste. She told me : "It is time we speak openly and frankly of the positive and negative aspects of the caste system in Senegalese society. I have suffered prejudice myself from being a "blacksmith" because it is considered an "inferior" caste. Traditionally, people were afraid to touch the clothes or other belongings of blacksmiths, believing it would bring them bad luck. Some people still believe in these superstitions and I am made aware of it by things they say or do. Despite the influence of modern society, I am still expected to follow the traditional notions of what a woman from the blacksmith caste should do or should not do. If I want to marry a man who is a gèwèl or a gèer, all of society will oppose me in my choice. I will be ostracized totally from my family and my children will not be accepted. Therefore, the caste system must be openly discussed because it still strongly remains in the mentality of the Senegalese people."
According to Abdoulaye Bara Diop in La Sociètè Wolof, there are four castes: the gèer (nobles), the jëf-lekk (artisans), the sab-lekk (singers and story-tellers), and the ñoole (court jesters and buffoons). These castes are endogamous, hereditary and interdependent. The latter three castes may be grouped together under the category of ñeeño, those who exercise a traditional profession. Diop notes that within the traditional system, slaves (jaam) were not considered a caste.
THE GEER The caste of gèer, which is considered the "superior" caste, is comprised of farmers, fishermen, or animal breeders. The gèer in Wolof society often have the last name of Jóob or Njaay. They are not allowed to exercise traditional professions and only may marry within their own caste. In some instances however, a man may have four gèer wives and take a fifth wife who is of slave origin. In this case, his children will be considered "benn tànk" meaning "one leg" or "one-legged". These children can neither marry someone of the gèer caste or of slave origin, as he or she will not be accepted by either group. They must marry others who have the same status of benn tànk.
THE JEF-LEKK Jëf-lekk literally means "those who eat by their profession". The jëf-lekk are divided into sub-castes : the tëgg or blacksmiths or jewelers; the uude or shoemakers; the seeñ or woodcutters; and the ràbb or weavers.
THE SAB-LEKK The sab-lekk are the "griots", the oral historians and praise singers. Traditionally, the griots had a very important role to play in society. They were feared by most because they could publically criticize or praise individuals of the society.
THE ÑOOLE The ñoole were the court buffoons. According to Diop, this caste no longer exists, mainly due to the impact of Islamic leaders who considered the behavior of the ñoole unacceptable.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE CASTE SYSTEM
American Peace Corps volunteers have told me that they often have had problems when their counterparts are of an "inferior" caste or of "slave" origin because the géer in the village refuse to follow orders or recognize them as leaders. One géer villager explained to me that members of an "inferior" caste may indeed be village leaders, however only when he or she is chosen by the villagers and not by an outsider.
Another volunteer said she had no luck with her village vegetable garden when she tried to organize it communally. When she let the villagers organize the garden themselves, she found that they divided the field according to caste.
In one interview, a villager told me that only a géer may be a village chief unless there are no géer left in the village.
Islam is opposed to the caste system and proclaims the equality of all men before God, yet almost all religious leaders in Senegal are géer.
A foreigner who marries a Senegalese may want to first find out about the social origins of that person. Most non-Senegalese whom I interviewed said it made no difference to them what others thought; however, it helped them to understand certain attitudes people may have had in relation to them and their children. It is interesting to note that a child of a "mixed caste" marriage is always considered to be of the "inferior" caste.
During the summer of 1992, a journalist for the daily Senegalese newspaper, the SOLEIL, wrote: "Will the caste system one day disappear? It is difficult to answer this question knowing how strongly prejudices are anchored in the minds of the collective unconsciousness. But who in fact is caste ? Can the division of labor alone explain an ideology based on blood and race? How can we explain the persistence of this phenomena in a country which ratified all the United Nations Charters concerning the rights of the individual?
"Despite the teachings of religion and the law, social stratification into groups has remained unchanged. Neither Islam nor the colonization of Senegal was able to undermine this phenomena based on a mental representation of individuals. Both the public school and urbanization, factors of integration and change, should have helped to eliminate the prejudices or at least diminished their importance - and yet they have only reproduced these social divisions.
"At a time when ideas of the 'civilization of the universal'
of 'integration' and 'democracy' have become key words in our generation,
it seems obsolete to speak of the caste system. But can we overcome prejudices
without totally changing the people who persist in perpetuating them? The
role of political and spiritual leaders is extremely important, but the
subject has become taboo in all circles. And so who dares to struggle for
the elimination of this tenacious problem which has its roots in the mists
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The first Senegal does not have much surplus; one third of Senegal's cereal needs must be imported. The rivers and deltas support rice farming, and the ocean and deltas provide fish. The irrigated areas, though small, are especially important for rice and for the new crops of cotton, peanuts, potatoes and other vegetables which came in when the rice subsidy was eliminated. The Senegal River is so flat that salt water during the dry season comes 280 miles upstream. US AID has promoted dikes to keep the fresh water in and the salt water out, increasing cultivated area by 20 percent. Also, along the north coast about 4,000 hectares have been reforested to stabilize the dunes and increase vegetable production.
Only 19 percent of Senegal is suitable for crops, and only 1.5 percent is irrigated, mostly along the Senegal, Saloum, and Casamance Rivers. The cultivated area of Senegal, the rural population, and the road system are concentrated in an area in the central, western one-fourth of the country, the "peanut basin." Over the last thirty years, the northern half of Senegal, including the basin, has become increasingly dry, gradually reducing the amount of peanut farming. Farmers also grow millet, cowpeas, sorghum, and melons. Millet is used for food and thatched for huts. Animal traction is used for plowing. Also, here and throughout the nation people tend cattle, small sheep, and small goats.
The desertification creeping southward is turning the far north into Sahara desert, and the mid-north, almost half the country, into Sahel, with only 200 to 400 mm (7.87 to 15.7 inches) of rain per year. Rain increases going south; Casamance gets about 80 inches a year. Rain falls less than 30 days a year. The rains of June to October come later, or less, or not at all. In many places, tree stumps and brown earth stretch to the horizon. Mali, Niger, and Chad are experiencing the same problem. (See "Historical Rainfall.")
There are many human reasons for the crisis of droughts and desertification: over-population, over-cultivation, over-grazing, deforestation, and erosion. There are also reasons beyond control of the nation: locusts and, most important, global warming.
Both wind and water cause erosion. Peanuts when harvested are ripped up by the roots, loosening the sandy soil, exposing it to wind erosion. In some places cultivable soil is gone. Water erosion is caused by deforestation, overgrazing, fires, a failure to return organic matter to the soil, and inadequate physical barriers to run off.
As the north gets drier, some farmers are burning and cutting easterly
into new areas of eastern Kaolack province and beyond to get fuelwood and
fertilizer to grow millet and peanuts. The sandy soils of the peanut basin
decline; rusty gravels and soils increase and are less fertile. About 80,000
hectares (200,000 acres, 300 square miles) a year of scrub pasture and
forest is being converted to agriculture, often using bush fires. Clandestine
tree cutters encroach upon once protected woodlands (Forêt Classée).
The fires add to the global warming problem. Then the denuded land can
not hold the rain, and there is erosion and less retained water. However,
there are also places where fallow periods are long enough, trees are maintained,
and the vegetation is stable.
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Population and the Status of Women in the First Senegal
The last official estimate of Senegal's population was 8,152,000 in 1993. At an estimated current growth rate of 2.7 percent, it probably reached about 9,565,000 by 1999. The population is growing too rapidly. It doubled from about one million in 1900 to 2.1 million in 1950, doubled again by about 1974, and doubled again by 1995. Life expectancy is only 54.2 years for men and 59.8 years for women. Half the population is under 18 years old. The population growth rate is, however, slowing. In 1978, the average woman had 7.2 children, declining to 5.7 children in 1997. The major reasons for decline were delay of first marriage and of first birth; more recently the rise in use of contraception from 4.8 percent of couples in 1992 to about 7.1 percent in 1996. Maternal, infant, and child mortality rates are high. Children die of dehydration by diarrhea, lung infections, measles, malaria, malnutrition, and parasites, especially in rural areas. Rehydration and immunization can save lives at least temporarily, but without other measures will only make matters worse.
The traditional patriarchal Muslim faith allows polygamy and an inferior status for women. Alisa Stone was a Peace Corps Volunteer in a village in the central area where drought and population problems were evident. ((Alisa Stone, "International Spotlight: Senegal," Population Report 3:1, Sierra Club, Spring 1999)) She reports women work the fields, pull water, pound millet, clean rice, collect fuel, prepare meals, wash clothes, and take care of many children.
They are married off young by their fathers, given no education, and cannot write their own names. Letters and numbers rarely appear in their environment. Use of contraceptives is, in theory, forbidden. The women develop a deep fatalism, in which God is responsible for good and for ill, including environmental problems, health problems, and births. It is, thus, impossible for most women to consult with their husbands, who in turn lack status relative to leading men. Traditional leading men support the system, while more modern educated men, often with educated wives and small families, are not very prevalent or visible yet in the countryside.
Village elders told Ms. Stone that over 30 years ago, there was surface water, while today the wells are 150 feet deep and saline. She planted 1,500 trees over two years, and only a few survived. The farmers were reducing crop rotations, clear cutting for more peanuts, burning wood and dung for cooking, and burning fields to leave a residue for fertilizing, all of which reduced crops and increased desertification. A marginal harvest her first year led to people running out of food, and the next year a drought destroyed the harvest, hurting the national as well as the local economy. Without millet, old huts began to collapse. Without a mandatory $4 for supplies, parents could not send their children to school. Malnutrition increased illness and weakness.
The first Senegal can live without much money; it can't live without food. All the men in her village went to the cities. The animals died, reducing plowing power, transportation, food, and income. Ms. Stone also reported some villagers would walk 15 kilometers to see her for health care. Extended family mutual support spreads what little is available and prevents more deaths. Her village was a typical case.
While religion, the status of women, and poverty may be blamed, the problem is also due to lack of education and family planning services. Once these are supplied, birth rates begin to fall, the status of women rises, and they seek more educational and economic opportunities. Supplying education and family planning, however, is not simple, given the realities outlined above and the need for a comprehensive and non-coercive approach. In this situation women's groups, fostered by the Tostan program, become the only viable social mechanism for raising awareness and developing will among women, followed by working on men. Everyone knows something is wrong, and some of both sexes are ready for new ideas and change.
time and local experience to develop, beginning with a children's center
in Dakar in 1976. It trains facilitators to work in villages using the
local language and culture in song, theater, stories, proverbs, games,
poetry, and flip charts. The training program is inter-active and fun,
and it works because villagers become active in the process of learning.
Facilitators teach literacy, arithmetic, telling time, calender, human
rights, health, hygiene, child care, the environment, problem solving,
management, and leadership, and discuss specific issues like water that
make these skills meaningful for the local situation. The six modules are
in four languages. The program takes 18 months and has reached over 350
villages and over 31,000 people over the last 15 years. Tostan has also
trained facilitators for 28 other non-governmental organizations. It is
an application of the great knowledge gained over 50 years around the world
from applied cultural anthropology and community development. The Tostan
website has detailed information, and I will only present here in more
detail from the website of the story of the village that Molly told us
about at dinner:
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== The Malicounda Bambara Story ==
Malicounda Bambara was one of the many villages participating in the Tostan basic education program from 1995 to 1997 in Senegal. The women of Malicounda Bambara studied session fourteen of module seven on female genital cutting (FGC) in August, 1996. Tostan facilitator, Mdey Maguette Diop, described what happened:
The women were at first hesitant to do a theater adapted from the story of Poolel, a girl who died as a result of FGC. We kept the same name as in the story - Poolel - which is a Pulaar name and didn't directly implicate the Bambaras in this tragedy, which may have helped.
The women did the story as theater, but refused to discuss it afterwards. I kept asking them the questions that accompany the sessions and no one would answer. The discussions in sessions one through thirteen were normally lively and animated. 'Why were they refusing to answer the questions?' I thought. 'Is it because I am Wolof and have not practiced FGC?'
So I did the session again and again. Three times. The third time they finally started talking timidly then more and more women spoke up. they admitted that it was an ancient practice that they followed because it was a tradition and expected of them by the men and religious leaders.
Nonetheless, their human rights training (through earlier modules of the Tostan program) helped them understand that they have the right to the highest standard of health. They also have the right to express themselves and give their opinions. They hadn't known all this before and had never discussed it together.
Finally, we ended up talking and talking about it together often. The women decided talk to their "Ndey Dikke" (adopted sisters in the Tostan class) and to their husbands about the dangerous health consequences of FGC.
They also thought it important to first get the advice of the Imam and the village chief on the issue. They were surprised when they discovered that many fellow villagers supported an effort to end FGC. They then performed the theater in other neighborhoods of the village, and decided to get those women discussing the issue."
By June, 1997, the women had convinced enough people in the village of the danger of FGC that there were no public circumcision ceremonies held that year during the rainy season. A class participant said, "By that time, everyone was aware that there was a movement to end the practice in the village. If any woman did cut her daughter, she did it in secret for the first time, knowing she would be subject to public disapproval."
Tostan headquarters learned of the news and visited the village with trepidation to confirm the impact of their program. Tostan representatives were hesitant to broach the subject because of the cultural sensitivity of FGC. Tostan issued the following report:
"The women of Malicounda Bambara have made up their minds. They will no longer practice female genital cutting on the young girls of the village! There will no longer be annual ceremonies to mark the moment when 'girl' become 'real women' following the ancient traditions of their ethnic group. No longer will needles and razor blades be used to cut the girls. No longer the flow of blood, no longer suffering on the wedding night of their daughters and complications at childbirth. No longer will young girls die needlessly from infection or hemorrhaging caused by the female circumcision rite!"
The women had made this decision of their own free will and not because Tostan had tried to impose it on the village people. There were no circumcision rites held publicly that year, indicating they had really put into practice their decision and not just expressed the wish to do so. A public declaration was made and signed in a ceremony attended by villagers. The decision came after the women had already spent two years in the basic education program. They were accustomed to working together, trusted the program and one another and would be able to defend their decision with information gathered from their modules on hygiene, health, problem-solving, leadership and human rights.The story did not end here. UNICEF and Tostan invited twenty journalists to visit Malicounda Bambara and the women spoke publicly about an issue that had been previously taboo to discuss. Despite repercussions from the village men over the publicity, the women stood firm in their decision to cease practicing FGC. Other villages soon began following their example, without having attended the Tostan training program.
Forestry and Energy.
Deforestation also causes desertification. About 57 percent of national energy comes from charcoal and fuelwood mostly produced and used by the first Senegal, and also a business of the third Senegal. In the peanut basin the farmers preserve their trees, but to the east trees are being cut for charcoal for cheap urban cooking in greater Dakar. Deforestation in the hinterland is accelerating deforestation and polluting air in the city. Woodcutting has by far the most destructive human impact and is the major reason for the rapid decline of forest. On our trip to Niokolo Koba Park we traveled through the main area for charcoal from Kaolack to Tambacounda. We saw several big trucks piled high with large, smudged white bags stuffed with charcoal. The bags not only went above the high walls of the cargo bed, but bulged out the sides above the walls. These behemoths of petty capitalism rolled precariously down two-lane roads for Dakar.
The government is subsidizing butane, the "butaneization" policy, to save trees and clean the air. The government might consider a small tax on charcoal to subsidize butane and increase the market price difference. Education can help with people who can make a choice, but policing is unlikely to work given the vastness of the country and the small number of police. In the countryside peasants use fuelwood. The government is promoting an energy-efficient stove, saving 40 to 50% of fuel. It is being promoted through the Peace Corps and is called "ban ak suf" or "clay and soil." Efforts to reduce use of charcoal have been somewhat successful, cutting use by 2/3 from 1992 to 1996, but only a little below 1987. Some progress has been made butaneization and solar cooking.
An old centrally directed program of protected forests has been decentralized under a new forestry code, which gives local committees management power and incentives. They now have a stake in maintaining production for fuelwood and poles, and have established new woodlots.
The first Senegal shades into the third
for the more successful farmers, especially those with secure irrigation,
enough land, and access to credit, markets, and technical information.
They can produce a decent cash crop and move beyond subsistence, and as
small farmers become part of the third Senegal.
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The Second Senegal
The second Senegal is overwhelmingly urban, educated, and French speaking, and, as the third Senegal rises, its monopoly on power is gradually diminishing. It is not as a whole affluent by American standards, but is well off by African standards, and basically middle class, with only a small number of affluent and rich.
In the midst of my focus on the reality within the country, I initially forgot to ask how Senegal sees the world, which means how the second Senegal sees the world. For a medium sized country, Senegal has strong participation in international diplomacy and great influence and prestige. I have no doubt Senegal has been better at signing and ratifying international treaties than the U.S.
Why has Senegal been so prominent? The
answer in part seems to be that domestic stability provides the space for
paying attention to the world. This stability is not exactly based on democracy,
but on an informal ability of the different ethnicities and interests to
live together, an ability which is also allowing the gradual strengthening
of democratic institutions. Equally important, the educated class has learned,
through the historic synthesis of French and Senegalese cultures to
be smoothly integrated into the world as a whole.
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The French culture of Senegal's elite does not rest uneasily on some native identity, but seems simply to be the cultural window through which educated Senegalese see the world, and see it with a modern mind. Senegalese identity is, then, nested in a larger world, its regions constituting the nation, the nation part of West Africa, which is part of a kind of French commonwealth, and is also part of the world. The world view of Americans is quite different, because we are so big. We tend to be more dualistic, us and the rest of the world. Smaller nations do not have that luxury.
The French-Senegal connection is historic. The early 19th century saw a struggle for political dominance in Africa. Senegal, however, was not very profitable for the French, due to harassment by the English, the dry climate, and the reluctance of the local population to be exploited. In the now-dated words of the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1958, showing an odd sympathy for the French, "The precarious position of the governors, local wars and the cupidity of the Negro kinglets, who exacted a burdensome tribute, all combined to reduce trade to very little." In 1849 peanuts began, shipped out of Rufisque, and grew steadily. The French built a fort in Dakar in 1857 to better help some merchants, but did not substantially subdue Senegal until 1865, and then only with a policy of respecting local customs. In 1886 the last Wolof king was killed in an insurrection. In the late 19th century, as the French expanded their influence, Senegal became part of a much larger French West Africa. France did not actually control all of the Senegal of today until 1904.
The French expanded their control into neighboring territories, and in 1908 Dakar became the capital of French West Africa (1902-1959), while the capital of Senegal remained in St. Louis. The French modernized Senegal with some industry and railroads, particularly rail from Dakar to Bamako in what was then called the Soudan part of French West Africa and is now Mali. The rail caused the role of the Senegal and Gambia Rivers for European penetration to fall. Dakar rose, also helped by port improvements pulling business from Rufisque. The downtown grew southeast of the port. North of the port along the rail line an industrial area developed.
The French gradually admitted a small but growing number of French-speaking natives into their society. Senegalese deputies sat in the French parliament. Black Senegalese fought for France in World War I. In World War II, the local French governor was at first loyal to Vichy and fought off a British-Free French attack, then later switched to the allies, allowing American troops to occupy Dakar. After World War II, two Senegalese Deputies helped write the French Constitution of 1946, and all Senegalese became French citizens.
One of these Deputies was Léopold Sedar Senghor, the Founding Father of Senegal. He was thoroughly French and thoroughly Senegalese. He was able to lead a more peaceful transition than George Washington, who was both English and American. Senghor was the only African admitted to the French Academy, for some of the best poetry written in French. His Socialist Party has been in power since before full independence in 1960. After twenty-four years as President of Senegal, he retired to France with his French wife.
Abdou Diouf has been president since Senghor stepped down in 1981. I think that is way too long to be healthy for democracy. Senegal is considered a multi-party system but, obviously, the opposition doesn't seem to be having much luck. While the political style is mostly democratic, the formal reality is still one of single-party dominance, some electoral fraud, centralized authority, and institution building.
Along with French culture, Senegal inherited old French bureaucratic centralism and new third-world socialism. Senghor and his socialist party were better at politics than economics. These organizational and ideological problems reflected the Cold War, and Senegal into the 1980s was failing to develop. State-owned businesses were over-staffed, technologically behind, heavily subsidized, and not performing.
Now bureaucratic decentralization and market ideologies dominate the world, and the second Senegal is changing gears. Diouf's regime seems to be reasonably competent, and is slowly decentralizing and moving to a market economy. The 1994 devaluation discussed below was a major turning point. A few major state industries have been privatized and others are in process. Compared to the rest of Africa, Senegal stands out for its moderation, progressiveness, stability, and democracy.
In January 1996 the parliament passed a
law creating elected local governments, and the first local elections took
place in November 1996. Unfortunately, the dominant Socialist Party manipulated
the elections so the vote lost some of its legitimacy. Nevertheless, in
January 1997 regional, municipal, and rural councils began operating for
the first time in Senegal's history, implementing an unusual, still tentative,
effort at decentralization. The electoral fraud led to creation of a non-partisan
oversight group and to on-going efforts to improve the machinery of voting,
a process strongly supported by opposition parties and even some in the
dominant party. The oversight group monitored the 1998 legislative elections
to the National Assembly, which were generally fair, although there is
continuing controversy over election laws and which parties they favor.
In 1999 a new Senate was elected, and in 2000, a new president will be
elected. The U.S. through US AID has helped with education on how to vote
and on improving procedures.
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Western, highly monetized economies have learned to manage fiscal monetary policy and have stable competitiveness based on a highly educated labor force and advanced technologies. Several third world nations are part way through a transition to Western standards, especially in Latin America, the Asian tigers, and South Africa, but sub-Saharan Africa has just started, a few steps away from colonial dependency and raw material exports. World markets and export prices beyond its control can whipsaw a small economy like Senegal's. Such infancy in an era of globalization means high opportunity, but also vulnerability,. The chance for one competitor to eat the other's lunch also means one may lose one's own.
Foreign exchange earnings provide the motor for growth in the domestic economy. In Senegal, fish, phosphate fertilizer mining (revenues up), peanuts (revenues down), and tourism (revenues up) earn the most foreign exchange. About 210,000 tons per year of phosphates are mined and mostly shipped to India. Senegal itself uses about 10,000 tons. Gold mining, building materials, and modern, Internet-based business services industries are growing.
Economic policy is the domain of the second Senegal. The Senegal economy is so small it needs to be part of a larger market, and it is, the Economic and Monetary Union of West African States. Making a West African Union economy work will be slow, because the institutional problems of each nation are duplicated at the regional level. For example, the 16 French speaking states have different commercial codes that should be harmonized to facilitate trade and investment.
Senegal shares its currency with a collection of former French colonies, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, and Côte d'Ivoire. They participate in a monetary union, the African Financial Community (CFA, same as the name of the common currency), run by the Banque Centrale des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest ("B C E A O" on the currency). Unlike most currencies, the CFA does not float, that is, it does not vary in value daily in competition with other currencies. It is tied to the French Franc at a fixed rate. The advantage for French-Senegal commerce is a simple, fixed exchange rate, which is also an advantage for West African commerce, helping create a market big enough for a more modern economy.
Over time the money supply of one currency typically increases faster than that of another. The values of currencies get out of line for various reasons, one of which is government spending more money than it takes in and the central bank monetizing the debt (converting it into money) by buying government bonds. The money supply then expands faster than the economy. For the overvalued currency, foreign goods are under-priced and export goods are over-priced.
The CFA over time got out of adjustment with the French franc (FF). In January, 1994, France devalued the CFA, cutting the exchange value in half. For thirty years, the rate had been 50 CFA per FF and in an instant it was 100 CFA per FF. Overnight, all import prices doubled. Overnight, Senegal received half the value in foreign currency of everything it sold on world markets. While a restructuring program had officially begun ten years earlier, the devaluation jolted the process forward.
The immediate result was hardship. For example, mini-bus fares rose to cover higher costs of imported gasoline. Briefly, inflation hit 30 percent, but more realistic prices led to the current cycle of growth, up every year since the devaluation. The economy grew 5.7 percent in 1998; with population growth, the per capita gain was about 3 percent. Inflation in 1997 and 1998 dropped below three percent. Domestic and foreign investment are up, and exports are rising faster than imports. The external debt, 69 percent of GDP in 1998, has stabilized.
Devaluation, however necessary in the short run, is not sufficient for the long run. Sustained growth requires fiscal discipline and "structural" reform-privatizing state businesses and creating free markets. Senegal is trying now to do this, with moderate success.
Government in Africa is a major employer, and if the government owns businesses, it employs even more. Politically, it has often been too easy to employ people in unproductive ways, and privatization is delayed. For example, privatization of Senelec, Senegal's electric power company, was long delayed-but finally did occur in 1999. The difficulty was to find a buyer willing to invest substantial sums in modernization given the limited purchasing power of buyers, reinforced by fears of losing jobs and suspicions of private profiteering.
The second Senegal is more interested in government, education, culture, and diplomacy than in business, making it slow to change policy to discipline government and to support business. The second Senegal, however, has made a sea change, with the rest of the world, away from state-directed economies and toward a larger share for the private sector. Their hearts may still be with socialism, but their heads are getting into business. Senegal agreed with the World Bank and IMF (International Monetary Fund) to the Agricultural and Private Sector Adjustment (PASA) program of market-based reforms and implemented them 1995 to 1997. In August 1998, Senegal agreed to a new round of structural reforms with the IMF.
Spending is being reined in and the tax system improved. Senegal is slowly selling off 18 inefficient state businesses, with so far 8 sold or closed. The telecommunications company, Sonatel, has been one-third privatized and is efficiently run. The Dakar Free Trade Zone and the public water company have been privatized. With U.S. help, rice importing, processing, and distribution has been privatized, subject to market supply and demand, saving the government $20 million per year. Peanuts processing, the national airline, and oil industries are being privatized.
Trade has been liberalized: import restrictions have been eliminated and export taxes abolished. Prices have been decontrolled. The government ended many "special concession agreements" creating government sanctioned monopolies, such as wheat and rice importing. It ended or reduced other subsidies and tax exemptions to certain enterprises. Senegal liberalized the Labor Code to make it possible to lay off surplus workers.
Current problems include the tougher issues
that can't be changed easily from above, such as privatizations where the
return to investor is not promising, as in the example of Senelec. Institutional
issues abound, such as a small, untrained judiciary, inordinate legal delay,
petty corruption, and paper work delays. A training program for judges
in commercial law, accounting, and business is being proposed. The "one
stop counter" for foreign investors has not worked well, and Senegal is
implementing "Trade Point" sponsored by UNCTAD. Trade Point will use Senegal's
modern telecommunications and Internet to link the Ministry of Finance,
freight forwarders, local banks, Customs, and the Central Bank. These links
should expedite permits for business activity. US AID is funding the World
Bank to compile a list of governmental permit requirements for businesses
(the Investor's Road Map) and will use it as a basis for discussing more
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Many problems affect transportation. Senegal since independence has failed to maintain or upgrade the transportation infrastructure left by the French. CETUD, discussed below, covers urban passenger transport. The rest of transportation is covered by a Transport Sector Adjustment Program, PAST, a $600 million program mostly funded by the World Bank and smaller international entities starting in 1991. Three-fourths of the money is going into highways. Modern paving on three main roads from Dakar-north, south, and east-are gradually being repaved and extended. Since 1997 car insurance requirements are enforced by proof of payment stickers on windshields, and the auto insurance industry has been growing.
Competition by roads has reduced transport by sea and by rail to the north, but, to the south, the road has two border crossings at The Gambia, making boats competitive from Dakar to Ziguinchor, the Casamance port. The big ship "La Diola" is an interesting mixed enterprise, with private management and military security, and the "African Queen" is all private. Costs at the state-owned, deep-water Port of Dakar are higher than at its competitors, so the port is losing business and has some incentive to reform. Five percent of PAST funds are going into maritime improvements.
At the airport, Air Afrique has a monopoly providing ground support to international flights except Air France, and overcharges for its services. Air Afrique, a creation of West African states, also has a quasi-monopoly on international flights. Air Senegal, a state-owned company with two airplanes, has a monopoly on national flights. Three percent of PAST funds are going into air transport.
The old rail going 1,300 kilometers from Dakar to the Mali capital of Bamako is a major carrier of freight, passengers, and baggage. Twice a week an "express" train makes the trip in 24 to 36 hours. It carries 90 percent of freight going to Mali. There is a major delay at the border as engines are switched (the one line is run by two companies) and customs are cleared. The train crosses the border and stops to do customs again. Small traders, mostly women, crowd into hallways, spaces between cars and by bathrooms, and onto empty freight trains. Efforts at economic union are not working well, and the train is "inefficient, slow, generally tedious and unsafe." (U.S. Embassy report on transportation, 1998). Rail is getting 16 percent of PAST funds.
I was also interested in cars coming into
central Dakar. There is a fine of $11 for illegal parking. Illegally parked
cars may get the sabot (literally, wooden shoe, what Americans call "the
boot") on a tire. Gasoline costs about $4 per gallon, and the tax on gasoline
is more than 60% of the price. There are pollution controls on new cars,
but 80 percent of cars are used. While my notes say 30 cars per day come
into the center, I think I meant 30,000 cars. Parking management in old
Dakar now looks like it consists mostly of just not having places to park,
but there is a Traffic and Parking Master Plan, and a Traffic Bureau is
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The second Senegal, that of the educated elite, has been studying desertification problems intensely in a process involving all sectors. This process also exemplifies how the world increasingly works using general purpose governments, financial institutions, and specialized organizations from the international to the local level, integrating their activities in a complex web connecting geographic levels, general and special purposes governments, and non-governmental organizations. The large number of entities creates a mind-boggling alphabet soup, overloading the newcomer.
The general purpose governments in this case at the international level were the national governments that participated in the Rio Conference in 1992 on the global environment (which produced Agenda 21 and other commitments), the United Nations (which after Rio created a committee of governments on desertification), the nations which adopted the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) in Paris in June 1994, and the World Bank. More specialized were the Secretariat of the CCD, the UN Environmental Programme, the UNDEP, the Netherlands aid agency, the Canadian Agency for International Development, the French Mission for Cooperation and Cultural Action, and GTZ (the German aid agency).
The U.S. Government participated through its Embassy, the Agency for International Development (US AID), and EROS (Earth Research Observation System) Data Center of the U.S. Geological Survey. The international agencies were coordinated by the Permanent Committee of Leading States in the Fight against the Drying of the Sahel (Comité Permanent Inter Etats de Lutte contre La Sécheresse au Sahel, CILSS). Two international conferences of parties have been held, in Rome in 1997 and in Dakar in December of 1998.
In Senegal, the organizing and planning started in 1993. At the national level the national government created and funded two new agencies, the Department for the Environment and Nature Protection (Ministere de l'Environment et de La Protection de La Nature, MEPN), and the High Council for Natural Resources and the Environment (Conseil Supérieur des Ressources Naturelles et de l'Environment, CONSERE). The CONSERE Secretariat is guided by a special inter-ministerial council headed by the prime minister and by a Permanent Committee of advisors, and is managed by a Permanent Secretary. The level of complexity was worthy of the U.S. government, and it gets more complex as more participants are brought into the process.
In 1993, with a mandate and money, CONSERE began work on the National Environmental Action Plan (Plan National d'Action pour l'Environment, PNAE), a broad planning process for all natural resources and sustainability. To go into more detail on desertification, another planning process was started to produce the National Action Program (Programme d'Action National de Lutte Contre La Desertification, PAN), which was coordinated with the PNAE process. (("Senegalese NAP: A Participatory and Iterative Process," CONSERE, no date, 4 pp.))
In February, 1995, CONSERE sponsored a "national seminar" on the PNAE and on desertification and, having planned the steps of an elaborate study, began to carry them out. In March, 1996, CONSERE sponsored a workshop to develop a communication and consultation strategy. In May, 1997, a series of national forums began. CONSERE published the PNAE in September 1997. In August, 1998, a final forum in Dakar approved the PAN, which was published in October 1998, on time for the international meting in Dakar in December. These plans are also linked to other specific programs for livestock, forests, bio-diversity, and land tenure.
Through many workshops and hearings around the country, all parties were consulted: state technical agencies, non-governmental non-profit organizations (NGOs), local government, farmers, women's groups, youth groups, "communication professionals," training and research institutions, civic associations, religious leaders (imams and oulémas), presidents of rural councils, businesses, political parties, labor unions. Most of these entities had a representative on the 19 member Permanent Committee advising CONSERE. The planners and participants followed three logical steps: define the problem in detail, identify human activities that cause the problems, and formulate an action plan.
The CCD (the UN Convention to Combat Desertification)
was translated into French, Arabic, Wolof and Pulaar and distributed, so
the 22 percent of the nation who were literate could learn more. Brochures,
flyers, radio, television, audio tapes, video tapes, tee-shirts, hats,
and calendars publicized the issues and the proceedings. Did you know that
June 17 is World Day on Desertification? Many people in Senegal do.
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The science behind the planning.
Much of the scientific work was done for CONSERE by the Center for Ecological Monitoring (Centre de Suivi Ecologique pour La Gestion des Ressources Naturelles, CSE). US AID, EROS Data Center, and CSE did high resolution satellite images, airborne videography, and biological and socio-economic field research. Early work in 1982-84 covered 600 sites, with a special ten year assessment of 150 sites in 1994-95. They also studied Landsat images from 1972 and later. This work may be the first of its kind for Africa, in scope, technology, duration, usefulness, and institutionalization.
They produced excellent photos, maps, and analysis documenting desertification, all portrayed in a remarkable "environmental profile" on a large sheet about three feet high and four and half feet wide, the one I saw in Col. Diop's office. On the left is a huge color satellite image of the whole nation. A key of small images helps interpret the large image. On the right are 43 color pictures of different places from a low flying airplane, each numbered to correspond with numbers on the large image. Under each picture is a description and issue summary. Along the bottom are five panels. One shows the decline in rainfall on six maps, one for each decade. The next shows regions by vegetation and land use, similar to a map in the upper center showing geographic land use zones, but more fine grained and complex. The middle panel shows 12 small satellite pictures, one for each month, of how the vegetation changes with the rain, as a wave of green sweeps up from the south, then retreats again. It also has pictures of three places showing "before" and six "after" the rain. Next come ten pictures showing various kinds of environmental degradation, and finally, at lower right, ten pictures of solutions. All the pictures have explanatory text.
The solutions include protection of Niokolo Koba Park, "one of the principal refuges for wildlife and plants in Africa." Judging from the photo, there are at least eight hippos in the park. How did they find them? Other solutions:
CONSERE has the responsibility now to carry out the PAN, energizing the networks developed during the planning process. CONSERE created a Consultative Group of all national parties. The international parties created the "Informal Donors Group" to help implement the PAN.
The long, complex plan calls for many things, some of which continue actions already underway, such as reforestation along the north coast to stabilize the dunes. It calls for continuing large protected areas of pasture land mostly in the north central area, protected forests scattered through the middle, the north coast, and Casamance, and protected parkland, the biggest being Niokolo Koba, followed by the much smaller Sine Saloum with its threatened mangroves, and a few small parks. The plan calls for continuing development of village cashew tree orchards, planting of hedgerows, reforestation, dikes along rivers to keep out salt water. Each part of the country has its own policies.
Peasant farmers need low interest loans and technical help to change their practices, to allow 1 in 4 hectares which exclude animals and have trees. From Kaolack to Casamance a cashew tree can grow to profitability in four to five years and have a crop of one hundred kilograms of nuts. Trees can stop wind erosion and provide cooking fuel. Farmers also need crop rotation and inter-cropping with legumes and better kitchen gardens. They need better breeds of cows, sheep and goats, and to reduce their numbers. Crop residue and green manure on the fields can absorb rain.
The government has created multi-functional "Centers for Rural Expansion" (CERs) in most of Senegal's 90 arrondissements. There are 320 "rural outposts." The Ministry of Agriculture supports rural agents trained by the Ministry of Environment to educate farmers. Each primary school should have a "small school forest," and almost 70 percent do. There are also health and forestry plans. The CERs support natural resource committees in the 320 Communautés Rurales, roughly equal to a American county. The committee are elected locally, and include farmers, women, youth, and herders. Environmental and business goals are integrated. With help from American universities, 15 rural committees developed land use plans and committed local resources as a basis for outside aid. Some 56 communities in the Kaolack area have cooperatives, most headed by women, assisted by Africare, US AID, and the Peace Corps.
The second Senegal and international community
are, thus, trying to help the first Senegal, but the expansive hopes on
paper are slow to arrive in the fields. Politically, the international
community and many nations have shifted from direct state programs to emphasizing
the role of local people-educating them, involving them in planning, and
giving them an incentive to change. This shift is especially important
given the French bureaucratic, centralized tradition. While the big picture
is continuing degradation and decline, there are many individual cases
of success, and some hope these may grow enough to turn things around with
family planning, education, and improved farming practices.
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The U.S. and Senegal.
The U.S. has good relations with Senegal, and their importance is increasing. The primary relationship is necessarily with the government and business community, the second Senegal, but AID and the Peace Corps assure contact with the rest of the nation.
The embassy mission statement provides a good overview:
"Senegal is American's most important francophone partner in Africa. A voice of moderation and statesmanship on peace in the Middle East, conflict resolution in Africa, human rights promotion and disarmament, Senegal is a veteran participant in international peacekeeping. It became the first African country to join the Desert Storm coalition, provided troops for the West African force in Liberia, and recently became a charter member of the U.S.-proposed African Crisis Reaction Force. Senegal's 35 years of political stability and its increasing political pluralism buttress our partnership. Commercial relations with the U.S. are still underdeveloped, but show promise. U.S. social influence on Senegal is on the rise, especially in the areas of education and popular culture."
This statement, I think, mainly applies to the second Senegal, and the only part that gives me pause is "popular culture." Heaven help them.
The Embassy operation is described in the Welcome to Dakar booklet. It is headed by the Chief of Mission (the Ambassador) and a Deputy Chief. The U.S. Mission itself has five main Department of State sections: political, economic ("econoff"), consular, security, and administration. The consular section provides "citizen services" for about 1,300 Americans in Senegal and for Senegalese who want to go to the U.S. There is also a medical officer. With varying degrees of independence from the core of the State Dept. are other agencies:
> The U.S. Information Service, which runs a Cultural Center
> The Agency for International Development (US AID) and the Peace Corps, which have a $25 million annual budget.
US AID focuses on family planning (about 15% of funds), child survival (15%), HIV/AIDS (5%), environmental protection for crop production (25%), and promoting small business and economic growth (40%). US AID helped develop the family planning program now being implemented. Breast feeding is increasing. Infant and child mortality have been declining, but immunization and urban problems continue. The HIV/AIDS rate is 1.4%, very low for Africa, a success story attributed to an early, aggressive prevention program using publicity, meetings with religious and political leaders, and strong surveillance.
US AID helped six bank branches improve farm loans. US AID will train managers and help improve regulation of some 30 small banks, leading to a loan guarantee program for very small loans to new clients. Some of these loans will help rural groups with natural resource projects.
US AID is now using "performance indicators" to measure progress; they are specific and useful. Examples include "ratio of private investment to GDP increase," "percent of local governments implementing 90 percent of their planned budgets in rural communities," and "percent of infants breast-fed increase." Such indicators help counterbalance sweeping, vague, programmatic language which promises more than it can deliver.
> Military attaches, who help with equipment, training, and joint exercises for West African peace keeping.
Since the Dakar airport is important, there is a representative from the Federal Aviation Administration. The Dakar mission also has four regional officers who back up six other U.S. embassies in west Africa.
The Commercial Section and interagency Private Sector Working Group of the U.S. Mission seek to improve commercial relations. Senegal's need for American technologies exceeds its purchasing power, educational level, and institutional capability. Government favoritism to socially connected firms can create problems for American business. The Embassy both helps individual American businesses and tries to reform policies affecting the business climate-privatizing the free trade zone, liberalizing trade, and resolving disputes. Initiatives are underway for telecommunications, power production, solid waste removal, and bulk grain storage.
Other countries also play a large role
in helping Senegal. The pattern of multi-leveled complexity of general
purpose and specialized governmental agencies that works on desertification
is also found for other functions. Foreign donors fund over one third of
the government's budget. They fund about 60 percent (over $500 million)
of Senegal's investment budget, of which the U.S. gives only about 4 percent.
U.S. aid comes in ninth place, after France, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, Saudi
Arabia, the World Bank, European Union, and the IMF. (The "Briefing for
the President," however, put the US in fourth place, after France, Japan,
and Germany.) Other donors include the African Development Bank, the International
Fund for Agricultural Development, the United Nations Development Program,
the West African Development Bank, Canada, Netherlands, and Italy. Aid
efforts are coordinated through a consultative group, which last met in
Paris in April 1998.
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The Third Senegal
Drought and barrenness are pushing the tribesmen of the first Senegal off the land into cities, especially Dakar, which are growing faster than the rural areas. In 1950 the population of the larger Dakar area was a quarter of a million; by 1999 it was over 2 million. Thiès went from 50,000 in 1950 to 210,000 today, and Kaolack grew from 60,000 to 180,000. In the broad sweep of history, the first Senegal has the longest story, but lost most power to the Second Senegal, only to be forced against its will off the land into the cities, where its numerical strength and energy will gradually increase its influence, but with a radically altered culture.
The small French historical city of Dakar has since the 1960s been dwarfed by development of new areas on the Cape. The growth is so rapid the maps do not keep up. The old Ville de Dakar has been outstripped by growth in Medina, Mermoz, Grand Dakar, Baobabs, Liberté, Ouakam, and so on, just to its north; by Parcelles Assainis, Cambérène, Pikine, and Guédiawaye, all working class areas on the north side of the Cape; and, much smaller, Rufisque, an old industrial suburban about 25 kilometers to the east.
The new population is fashioning a new identity for Senegal. The third Senegal, still characterized by low education and low productivity, is learning quickly about urban life. Its members are hard working, entrepreneurial, and often the first in their families to be educated. Their "popular" economy is more involved in the money economy than the hinterland, but not fully monetized, still depending on family connections, barter, and doing without. The third Senegal is also getting formal education and finding its way into the jobs of the modern economy.
The third Senegal depends on the second
Senegal to create the conditions it needs for economic opportunity. In
a crisis, the modern economy contracts and the popular economy takes up
the slack. The appearance of poverty to Western eyes obscures the variations
in poverty over time and among different families as experienced by locals.
The casual visitor does not see the uneven but upward movement of large
numbers of working class people as they learn urban skills.
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While "transportation" is a topic of the economy, "public transit" is a topic of the everyday life of the third Senegal. In metro Dakar about 36 percent of vehicle trips are by private car, about 11 percent by taxi, about 36 percent by minibus (cars rapides), about 14 percent by public bus (SOTRAC), about 1 percent by the PTB commuter train, and the remainder by other bus services.
Urban density, poverty, and distance, however, mean that about half of trips are by walking, especially to school and to shop. Combined with the data above, only about one-sixth of total trips are made by private car.
About two-thirds of the modern jobs are heavily concentrated in the old Ville, while the workers live to the north. A few modern roads make employment reachable by rapides and buses from new areas. Parts of the highway network have been overwhelmed by growth in traffic. Given the high tax on gasoline, there should be funds for transit and for bottleneck improvements. Many arterials are narrow, unpaved, unsignaled, and unsigned.
The backbone of transit in Dakar is the privately-owned "cars rapides," an amazing system that works remarkably well at the same time it seems about to collapse. The rapide is a Renault mini-bus with room for 25 people. Starting in 1947, there are now about 2,500 rapides in urban Dakar and another 1,500 in inter-urban service. Each is painted with a variety of colors, and has the name of the owner and usually an Islamic phrase. One big company owned by the Mourid Islamic brotherhood and many smaller ones employ about 30,000 people. The brotherhood also owns taxis and 35 seat Mercedes buses, the Ndiaga Ndiayes.
While the driver of a rapide is hell-bent on getting somewhere, the fare collector hangs onto the back, feet on the bumper and a strong grip on the back door, which is always open for people to board. The old Rapides, whose average age is 20 years, are keep alive by mechanics of awesome genius.
Since there was no subsidy, the 1994 devaluation forced fares up about 20 percent to cover foreign fuel costs. The Rapides of Dakar may not look better, but they work better, than transit in the U.S. because they mostly pay their own way. Transit privatization is much further along in Senegal than in the U.S. (Americans should follow our own advice, but that would require much higher gasoline prices.)
There is also a smaller, public bus system, SOTRAC, which has been troubled by debt, non-payment of workers (caused by not having much of any fare), and dying old buses. It has 130 buses and is recently privatized with some subsidy. Its buses, now about 15 years old, will need replacing. There are some smaller firms, like SAGAM, a security company providing bus service.
The old railroad from Dakar to Bamako comes into the city along the south coast of Cape Vert to a station on the edge of downtown near some ministries. Commuter trains started fairly recently, in 1987. They are called the PTBs, for Petit Train Bleu, Small Blue Trains, which they are. They have about 20 to 22 thousand passenger trips per day, about 2 percent of public transport riders. There are also some taxis and some "clandos" (clandestine, unregulated taxis).
During the 1990s, Senegal developed a National Transportation Plan with $700 million for transit and $400 million for roads. In 1997 the government created CETUD as an inter-agency coordinating body to implement the plan; its assembly includes 11 national agency representatives, 6 from local government, and 10 from transit agencies. CETUD met with the World Bank in December, 1998, in Paris for a loan to renew the bus fleet. The low income of riders does not permit much fare increase while the government is under pressure to privatize businesses. The new buses will cost some ten times as much as the old. The amount of subsidy is hard to negotiate. Rapide fares are low, and the expense of replacing them great. The ride costs only 100 to 200 CFA, or 18 to 36 cents. Hopefully, some international aid will help out, but, sooner or later, somehow, fares must be raised. Also, CETUD is analyzing the potential for the government to lease new rapides and buses to operators, allowing a big capital expense to become a smaller monthly payment.
Unfortunately, current trends are reducing the willingness of the growing middle class to use transit. Indirect costing of auto use, which subsidizes private demand, is a world wide problem. Reform is hard when most policy makers drive cars. The rate of car ownership is still only 47 cars per 1,000 people, but it is concentrated in Dakar and increasing with affluence. Air pollution increases, since mostly used cars are imported. As the Rapides lose riders, given their crowding and generally low-income clientele, more private cars cause more congestion, and inefficient cars slow down the efficient rapides.
I urge a gradual transition, starting with
new buses that can appeal to middle income riders. New buses serving middle
class areas could charge a higher fare and, combined with other policies,
reduce congestion. Those policies would be congestion pricing and parking.
Congestion pricing, perhaps variable peak hour entry fees like Singapore's,
could be applied to access to downtown. More aggressive parking management
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Self-help public services.
One of the guests at the formal Embassy lunch, Malik Gaye, wrote a book, Entrepreneurial Cities; Public Services at the Grassroots (1996, ENDA, Dakar). Gaye works for ENDA, a non-governmental organization specializing in helping grass-roots, low resource movements. He discusses the principles, examples from around the world, and programs in Rufisque. The concept of national governments helping poor people in cities has failed. The poor people have built new cities without government. The formal model of democracy calls for electing leaders who collect taxes and implement regulations and services. The emerging model calls for continuing egalitarian collaboration among affected parties, similar to the rural work of Tostan. Local governments and local non-profits are closer to the details of new worker suburbs, and thus better able to help at the critical points.
"Marginalised citizens are being forced to find co-operative solutions to new urban problems that are reaching critical proportions. They have achieved a measure of success. Appropriate, sustainable, pragmatic solutions are being found and populations are being mobilized. Through their work they are developing the notion of good governance, ..." (p.8)
ENDA sponsored several community development activities in Rufisque. Neighborhood meetings and surveys in three "poverty pockets" found that few had electricity and most dumped their waste water on the streets, creating stagnant puddles. Solid waste piled up on unofficial heaps. Only about a third of households had toilets. Most people are under 25 years old and mostly have two years or less of schooling. Only 21 percent are working for cash, and make and spend about $150 per month. The local clinic treated diarrhea, dysentery, dermatitis, and other hygiene related problems, even malaria and cholera. After the sewer and waste programs, these problems decreased greatly.
The people through various committees set up a system of door-to-door collection of waste using horse-drawn carts. Women bring buckets and basins to the cart and pay from 2¢ to 5¢ depending on how much they are disposing of. Cart waste is sorted into compost given to sewer plants, sellable bottles and aluminum, and waste going to the dump. Carters must work two hours, then are free to use their cart on their own account. They and their horses make enough to live on and pay off the $600 loan to buy the cart. (There are variations on these arrangements.) By 1998 about 4,500 households were disposing of about 6 tons a day of waste.
The wastewater program used small diameter pipes at a shallow depth, suitable for a tropical climate and low volumes. They are cleaned periodically. The households with shower, sink, and squat toilet have to maintain a waste water chute, fat filter, and inspection hatches. The sewage flows to lagoon-style sewer plants which produce irrigation water and compost. Some water is used for farming within the neighborhood where there were once rubbish heaps, and the crops are sold. Other water is sold for reforestation, city landscaping, and making cement moldings, flower pots, and plaster board. The compost is used for reforestation and gardens. By 1998 about 10,000 meters of pipe had been laid connecting about 750 compounds. The waste and sewer programs created about 120 jobs, mostly for young men.
Another example of self-help services was
the Jokkoo - AJC3 Social Center we visited in Pikine, described
above. Here is the report sent to us by its director.
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The Center was founded in 1996 by the youth association of Pikine, a suburb of Dakar. The settlement is mainly caused by the exodus of peasants from the barren lands to the city in search of better living conditions. Now Pikine is one of the largest cities with severe social and economic problems.
The youth association of Pikine does community projects to tackle social issues related to the development of Pikine, particularly educational issues. The center was created with the help and support of an important part of the community.
"Jokkoo - AJC3" means solidarity. The mission of the center is to provide schooling and training to underprivileged children and youth by giving them adequate education and social assistance. Some are from poor families, others are orphans and street children.
First section is concerned with children under six years old. They are mostly orphans from different races and origins. They attend motherly courses under the supervision of a teacher and a social assistant, both working as volunteers for the Center. The Center provides them with comfort and family warmth through games, hobbies, and entertainments.
Second section are young boys and girls between 9 and 18 years old. Some of them have been rejected from school and are homeless or generally street children or youth, or youth working under difficult conditions to support their family. The Center provides them with schooling and training in painting, mechanics, woodcarving, and other professional fields of their choice.
Third section, arts and crafts center, has a workshop on arts and crafts. Children and youth are trained in crafts like drawing, carving, drum-making, and painting. Within three years of study, the Center helps them run their own shop and lead a normal life.
Fourth section is the literacy program. The Center develops literacy courses for adults in general and women in particular. They are taught to read and write. A small credit and sparing [?] is also set up to help them start their own business and support their family.
The Center has recently opened a new section in African musical instruments and dance. Young boys and girls and sometimes adults are taught to make African instruments like the Kora and the Balafon. A new band has been set up and is now performing over in neighboring districts.
The Center also organizes sensitizing campaigns on social issues, such as health, education, and human rights. Other campaigns are organized for young children and boys addicted to drugs and violence.
The purpose is to develop prevention and build awareness among the community for a global response against poverty, illiteracy, youth delinquency, and mistreatment of children.
For further information contact Abdoul Aziz Ndoye, Manager
Pikine cite I cotaf 3 / Social Center
No. 3257 Dakar, Senegal
Tel.: 834-2705, fax: 834-6033, email: Ajc3@caramail.com
While I'm no expert on Senegal, I continue to be concerned that the country may define its future in Western terms, when the West, particularly the U.S., despite high incomes for the affluent, continues to have severe problems of child welfare and criminal violence, and poor distribution of income and racial inequality. The U.S. causes internal and international environmental devastation, unsustainability, and exploitation of third world labor. American materialism, loss of spiritual values, and profound ignorance about the world we live in raise serious questions about our ability or right to lead, yet our flashy wealth can be all too attractive to poorer nations. Our vast subsidies to car use has devastated the landscape, burdened the economy, polluted air and water, and undercut urban living and community. I think Senegal will be helped by the Internet, a scientific understanding of its desertification, family planning, the comprehensive empowerment program of Tostan, and many other things. In my mind I can't draw a clear line between good and bad modernization, but a moderate growth rate bringing along most people seems far better than a boom based on a few hyper-growth sectors and wrenching social dislocation. Senegal seems, fortunately, to fall into the former category. The American part of me wants them to reform faster, but a deeper part is rooting for a little persistent inefficiency.
Senegal on the web
Framework for Long-Term Monitoring of Natural Resources in Senegal (very extensive environmental profile): edcsnw3.cr.usgs.gov/senegal/senegal.html
For published papers relating to the above, search USGS Publications/Library for Senegal and Tappan edcwww.cr.usgs.gov/publications/search.cgi
Africa Data Dissemination Service (satellite images, digital maps, West African Spatial Analysis Project (WASA) http://edcintl.cr.usgs.gov/adds/geodatas1.php?area=sg
US AID http://www.usaid.gov/pubs/cp2000/afr/senegal.html
Tourist info www3.travelocity.com
Destination Guide, Africa, Senegal http://www.africaguide.com/country/senegal/index.htm
General info, good links http://www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/Country_Specific/Senegal.html
Languages, ethnicities www.sil.org/ethnologue/countries/Sene.html
A list of 77 web sites, the best place to start additional research on Senegal
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