chapter  10
3 Pages

Using Participatory Education and Action Research for Health Risk Reduction Amongst Farmers in Dakar, Senegal

ByNita Chaudhuri

Senegal, a country of 11.4 million people which is among the poorest in the world, is experiencing a rapid urbanization process, partly due to severe drought in the hinterland. The capital city of Dakar has a population of 2.3 million inhabitants with an urban growth of 4 per cent per annum (Editions, 2000; UNDP, 2005). Among Dakar residents, lack of formal employment, deterioration of existing urban infrastructure and lack of access to land, finance and adequate shelter (UNCHS, 2001) have led people to urban agriculture (UA) for both financial and food security reasons. Yet exploitation of the Niayes (Figure 10.1), part of a productive green belt of land that stretches through Dakar up the coast, has generated significant environmental degradation, including soil infertility, deforestation, scarcity and salinity of water, loss of biodiversity and waste accumulation. Farmers have responded to problems of soil infertility with applications of wastewater, mineral and organic fertilizers and also use pesticides to maximize production (Niang and Gaye, 2004). The unique ecosystem of the Niayes is composed of sandy dunes and depressions that are regularly flooded with groundwater from the very high water table. The quantity and quality of groundwater is vulnerable in this region because sandy mineral soils do not filter potential contaminants such as pesticides and nitrates. In addition, the excessive pumping of groundwater has caused saline water intrusion to occur, which has degraded both groundwater and soil quality (Figure 10.2) (Gueye, 2005). Intense human activity due to increasing population pressure has also severely affected the

surrounding ecosystem. Options for minimizing the health impacts of the various practices that damage the ecosystem are available, but not adequately implemented. These practices include such interventions as wastewater treatment, various irrigation techniques or integrated pest management (IPM).