Solidarité Ci Sutura has been campaigning for the government of Senegal to adopt a clear plan to deal with coastal erosion in Bargny for years. Unfortunately, local communities have been left to their own devices, and without proper insurance, many of them have lost houses that provided their families accommodation for decades. Bargny has been losing a row of houses per year as the Atlantic Ocean advances.
“When the ocean takes people’s houses, they have only two options. To migrate to Dakar and other major urban centres in the ECOWAS region or to migrate to Europe via Ceuta. Climate change is destroying families here!”
Fadel cannot understand why the Senegalese government is not doing enough to protect its citizens against this phenomenon.
“The youth are all leaving. Due to climate change, they are losing their homes, and there is less fish in the sea. There is nothing keeping them here”. He is even more baffled that the Senegalese government is still pushing anthropocentric development policies.
Recently, the Macky Sall government approved projects for gas exploitation in the Sangomar Delta. Sangomar is in the Saloum Delta and the area has important wetland habitats including mangrove swamps, coastal marine, and an adjoining area of dry woodland all protected by UNESCO.
“I understand that there is pressure to get money for development, but the government should be getting partners to promote our natural assets rather than drilling for oil”.
In October 2022, Fadel participated in the School of Ecology organised by the Centre for Alternative Research and Studies (CARES) in Mauritius where he spoke about the need for developed countries to honour their Conference of the Parties (COP) pledges so that developing nations like his can feel less pressured to destroy wetlands in search of gas.
“We are destroying our future for a few million dollars,” Fadel laments.
He also attended COP27 in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, where he presented experiences from Senegal on topics like coastal erosion, salinisation and migration. He repeated the following message in all the panel discussions that he participated in:
“in order for us to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees relative to preindustrial times, we have to cut emissions by 50% by 2030. That means using a lot less fossil fuels. We also need to protect indigenous communities and our natural resources. We also need to adopt loss and damage and implement it fully - with the right beneficiaries.”
Fadel is happy that a Loss and Damage initiative was finally adopted in COP27 but he has doubts about how the instrument is going to be implemented. “They adopted a 100 billion dollars fund in Paris, but where is that money today? It is a complete joke!”
He believes that the Loss and Damage Fund should be rolled out in the form of transfers of technology and resources from developed to developing nations (excluding China, Saudi Arabia, India, Qatar, Mexico and other countries on a similar level) to improve access to energy and better agriculture.
After COP27, Fadel co-organised an alternative COP in Senegal. He worked with activist Aissatou Keita and Rosa Luxemburg Project Manager Ibrahima Thiam to bring activist from ECOWAS to discuss topics like the Africa Great Green Wall, salinisation, socioecological transformation of Senegalese communities, shining the spotlight on communities like the Bassari and recentering attention on neglected food crops like Fonio.
Rosa Luxemburg staff members Ibrahima and Jenny helped Fadel centre the focus of the alternative COP on the most pressing issues of the moment, i.e. promoting discussion on three key priorities, viz. 1) Sanilisation of rice fields; 2) gas exploitation in Senegal which is looking more and more likely; and how to get developed countries that have polluted the most since the beginning of the industrial revolution to pay for adaptation and mitigation projects in Africa.
The Senegalese alternative COP went to all counties in Senegal, before holding a five-day school in Ziguinchor from 21 – 26 November 2022.
“The Climate School that we had in Ziguinchor fills me with hope. The youth are very engaged in the fight for a greener Senegal. They are also very committed to circular and solidarity economies. Traditional authorities have been surprisingly very receptive to our school of ecology. One chief who has lost many hectares of land due to ocean salinisation told us that he will campaign for all his peers to get behind the push for a just transition in Senegal. Climate change is an equal opportunity offender. It is hitting EVERYBODY hard.”
Fadel hopes that all Senegalese can get behind this agenda because that is the only way to save Africa.