Dakar suburbs under water

It’s said that after the rain comes sunshine. But in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, rain is followed by floods – why is why several suburbs are currently under water.

In Rufisque suburb, residents blame the authorities overseeing railway repairs and construction, who they accuse of blocking drainage channels. As a result, rainwater overflows onto streets and into houses.  Mattresses and kitchen utensils float around homes, and in the flooded roads carts are used for short distances because public transport has virtually ceased to function.

Even if the situation is exceptionally bad this year, because of poor maintenance or heavy rain, it’s not unusual for rain and sewage channels to overflow during the wet season.

“It’s a hell that returns every year, and the government is blocking all solutions. Our children become ill,” says Astou Sagna, a resident of the Grand Yoff area.

Entire families have been moved to schools, where they are exposed to insects and bugs. To make it worse, this is the time of year when the risk of malaria is at its highest.

The use of schools as temporary shelter also risks disturbing the start of the school year on 3 October.

For years the education minister’s slogan has been “Ubbi Tëy, Jang Tëy” –  “Teaching starts the first day of school”. But that might prove difficult: the homes of the families who have been moved to the schools are still under water – and the rain is still falling.

/Ngoundji Dieng, Dakar

The postcards written by journalists in our network are published on the Blankspot Project website.

Senegal – passionate and colourful

Article published in Fönstret
#3 2019
Av Ngoundji Dieng

Culture-rich Senegal’s first president was also a poet, and the country’s biggest football stadium is named after him. Next to the Leopold Sédar Senghor stadium is an artists’ village. In the capital, Dakar, painters, sculptors and potters display their work along the beachside highway.

Senegal also has a proud film tradition. After the internationally acclaimed director Sembène Ousmane’s last film in 2004 (Moolaadéabout six girls who run away to avoid genital mutilation) and his death in 2007 the movie lights dimmed, but now Senegalese cinema has been reignited by a new generation of directors.

Full article (in Swedish) here:

Roaming cattle block the roads

On the busy street in front of Senegal’s biggest university, Cheikh Anta Diop, scores of cattle mooch around. And that’s not from the only place they inhabit. Most residents of Dakar have stories to tell about how they’ve been in danger, as pedestrians or drivers, because of the wandering animals.

But the traffic police look the other way.

”It comes down to a lack of responsibility from the owners,” says Ibrahima, a civil servant as he surveys the scene. “But the politicians should also do something about it,” he adds.

He is often forced to slam on the brakes to avoid colliding with the roaming cattle on the VDN, one of the capital’s main roads to the university, where we are meeting. 

The owners of the animals are difficult to trace and talk to, but most Dakar residents think that the problem has worsened by the growth of the city: the green spaces where the animals once grazed are rapidly disappearing as the owners of every plot of land cash in on their asset. 

In his first speech to the nation after the February election, the president mentioned the need to “clean the streets”. A first stab at action followed on the night of 23 April. But where the animals were supposed to go has not been specified. So they continue to clog the roads.

/Ngoundji Dieng, Dakar

The postcards written by journalists in our network are published on the Blankspot Project website.

Opposition politician arrested after elections

Senegal’s constitutional council ruled in early March that President Macky Sall was re-elected with 58 per cent of the vote – but opposition groups and other critics say they neither acknowledge the result nor will appeal against it. They’ve already moved on, says local journalist Ngoundji Dieng in Dakar.

Instead, controversy centres on the arrests of activists who supported runner-up and former prime minister Idrissa Seck, who received 21 per cent of the vote.

The security chief of Seck’s party, Rewmi (The Country), was arrested for encouraging people to oppose the result in the event of a first-round victory for  Sall. He was subsequently released under legal supervision, which Rewmi claims is part of a witch-hunt against party activists. An unconfirmed number of people have received conditional sentences for disturbing public order.

While the election result passed unnoticed, this is something that engages the people on the streets. Many have condemned the actions and called for dialogue and calmness.

“I don’t see the point of these arrests. Macky Sall won by a large number, so why fan the flames?” says Ngouda Fall in a conversation with friends.

/Ngoundji Dieng, Dakar

The postcards written by journalists in our network are published on the Blankspot Project website.