Téméye was last week the referral ground for residents of Ndiael, in the region of Saint-Louis, who expressed disagreement over the presence of Senhuile agribusiness Project that is ultimately grabbing and destroying their land. Henceforth, 37 villages with about 9,000 inhabitants and their 100,000 herds have opposed a total refusal to the company’s establishment in their land. As they prepare a protest march, these populations launched an advocacy campaign and question the Senegalese President Macky Sall on the issue.
Populations organized in a cluster of 37 villages along the Ndiael area have on Thursday, April 10th, 2014 converged to Téméye (Region of Saint-Louis), in northern Senegal to protest against Senhuile agribusiness project implanted two years ago in the area.
These local communities (about 9,000 souls) kick off a national and international campaign for the defense of their rights. Their willpower to resist is mainly due the fact that the Senhuile agribusiness project has critically dry out water ponds in the Special Avifauna Reserve of Ndiael despite all the conservation efforts made over three years by organizations such as Wetlands International.
''The water that used to stream from canal Yetti Yone to the great fed, to the delight of local residents and migratory birds in January, has now dried. It is pumped from the canal to irrigate farms of Senhuile and all the biodiversity will be lost if the State of Senegal and the international community continue to remain dumb'' said Ardo Sow, spokesman for the populations of Ndiael during last week’s large gathering.
Chief Gorgui Sow, of the village of Daymane, who is also a member of the group appears inflexible on his opinion: ''The Activities of this Senhuile company deprives us of access to the majority of pastures and sources of food, water and firewood. Women, in particular, have returned to the Middle Ages, they are forced to travel long distances to access these resources.''
Bayal Sow another resident goes further to explain that the project has countless negative consequences for 9,000 souls and 100,000 cattle heads who live, most of the time in semi -nomadic animal husbandry.
All stakeholders during this gathering expressed astonishment and disbelief at the stubbornness of the state of Senegal and the greediness of Senhuile despite the opposition of local people who have challenged the project from the commencement. ''We are witnessing a new form of colonization. The project imposes the behavior of a colonial master in the area. They want to impose these foreigners negative project after they have been chased from Fanaye but it will not happen here and we will face it. We are ready to die to defend our lands because we are Senegalese and we cannot afford to go elsewhere '' said Ardo Sow.
All speakers during the gathering appeal the attention of Senegal’s Head of State Macky Sall, who ironically promised his support to the populations during his 2012 Presidential election campaign. '' We were told that Senhuile was for him'' they argued. However, the cluster warns that a peaceful march demonstration, with livestock, is in the agenda of an action plan to address the aggression from what they call “these invaders from Italy”.
15 NGOs and the civil society support the people in the Ndiael Reserve
Speaking on behalf of the joint civil society organizations, Ms. Aissata Dia condemned the airplane spread of fertilizer by Senhuile Company which may cause health hazard for people, livestock and the environment. She recalled that the people of the Ndiael reserve are not alone in their struggle since strong civil society organizations such as Wetlands International, CNCR, ActionAid, Raddho, Congad, Civil Forum , Enda Pronat , Panos ... and others working in environment , land and food security issues, have come together to back up the resistance.
From Alain Téméye Bridge to the villages in the RSAN as well as rural communities of Diama and Gnith (Region of Saint-Louis), the committee representing the cluster has traveled around to show representatives of the civil society and community organizations the negative impacts that is caused to local populations by the Senhuile Project.
Under President Abdoulaye Wade, the Government of Senegal grabbed 20 000 ha of land from the Special Avifauna Reserve Ndiael (RSAN) and allocated it to Senhuile SA for its agribusiness activities in the area. The Project was later canceled when President Macky Sall took over. Surprisingly, his Government allowed again the project few months later. Since then, there is a social crisis because local people are fundamentally against.