Senegal, once rich in fish

The westernmost country in Africa is not rich in mineral resources. The phosphate deposits were plundered during the French colonisation. At the same time, forests and farmland had to make way for large peanut plantations; but palm oil has long been more in demand than peanut oil. Remained the fish, lots of fish.

The republic, which became independent in 1960, was left with fishing and tourism. The latter collapsed after 9/11; holidays were less in demand even in a country inhabited by predominantly liberal Muslims. The fish, on the other hand, is still so sought after in Europe that local fishermen along the 700-kilometre coastline, once famous for its abundance of fish, are bringing home less and less.

For many people employed in fishing, there are hardly any alternatives in the less industrialised country. Not even in agriculture: the progressive Sahelisation has driven many small farmers from their withering fields to the coast in the hope of being able to survive with fishing.

This was the situation we encountered in 2004 when we started our project with artisanal fishermen. Since then, the situation has become even worse; the plundering of fish stocks is driving many fishermen into emigration.


Something about the country

The Republic of Senegal has a population of around 17 million people living in an area of almost 200,000 km², with a population growth rate of 2.7% per year.
More than 90% of Senegalese profess Islam, and Sufi brotherhoods play an important role in society.
Senegal is a state of different peoples, each with its own language, who have not been played off against each other since independence (1960) thanks to skilful politics. Wolof is the lingua franca and French is the official first language.

Economically, Senegal is still dependent on Europe, especially because of the West African Economic and Monetary Union's currency (CFA), which was once pegged to the French franc and is now pegged to the euro.