Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Field Project Assessment
Conservation and restoration of the mangrove swamp ecosystem at the Saloum Delta Biosphere Reserve, Senegal

Date of

19th, 20th and 22nd December 2001.
Assessment completed: 15th May 2002.

conducted by

Mr. Philippe MacClenahan, UNESCO Consultant (not closely associated with the project); Mr Achille Olloy, UNESCO, Dakar Regional Office; Mr. Alioune Kane, Course Director, UNESCO Chair, Diplôme d’Etudes Approfonfies (DEA), Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD); Mr. Nicolas Diallo, Project Leader, Department of Plant Biology, UCAD; Mr. Amadou A. Sow, Department of Geography, UCAD; Mr. Gorgui Ciss, Department of Geography, UCAD; Mr. Bachir Diouf, Department of Geology, UCAD; Mr. Amadou Tahirou Diaw, Development Research Institute, Department of Geography, UCAD; Ms. Marie Fall, DEA student.  

All documents are in French 
  1. Field visit report to the Saloum Delta Biosphere Reserve, June 2001.
  2. Issues related to the integrated management of the continental part of the Saloum Delta Biosphere Reserve, Aissata Dia, DEA report.
  3. Issues related to the integrated management of the insular part of the Saloum Delta Biosphere Reserve, Claude Sene, DEA report.
  4. Precipitation regime in the Saloum Delta Biosphere Reserve and impact on socio-economic activities, Koko Zebeto Houedaakan, 1999, DEA report.
  5. The dynamics of the mangrove ecosystem and contribution of the development of a restoration strategy in the Saloum Delta Islands, Sada Kane, 1999, DEA report.
  6. Conservation and sustainable management of historical and archaeological shell midden sites in the Saloum Delta, Mandiaye Thiobane, 1998, DEA report.
  7. Participatory planning in the artisanal fisheries of the Sine-Saloum, December 1998, Final Report 2,.
  8. Contribution to the development of the integrated management plan of the Saloum Delta Biosphere Reserve (Senegal), E.S. Diop Ed., 1998.
  9. The ecotourism issue in the Saloum Delta Natural Park and participation and development strategies for local populations, Affro Bono Dorcas, 1999, DEA report.
  10. Perceptions and land planning in the Gandoul and Betenti Islands in the Saloum, Marie Fall, 2001, DEA report.
  11. Habitats and production systems on the island of Mar (Saloum Islands), Abdoulaye Ndiaye, 2001, DEA report.
  12. Environmental restoration by replanting of mangroves, El Hadji Sonko, 2001, DEA report.
  1. Meeting with the village chief of Fahia and guided visit to nearby shell burial mounds and to a mound that is quarried in Guior.
  2. Meeting with the village community and women’s groups in Dionewar.
    The visit included an overnight stay at a lodge at the mouth of the Saloum Delta. Transport to the islands was by motorised canoe.
Constraints: This is a partial assessment as only two sites could be visited during the 24-hour stay. Lecturers and researchers were only available on a limited basis due to commitments during the examination period.

Field Project Assessment

The following assessment discusses the project activities to date in terms of several long-term parameters or characteristics of ‘wise practices’. The Biological Reserve area of the Saloum Delta has been studied by UCAD since the early 1980s.   This present assessment focuses on recent project activities, especially the management of natural resources, including mangroves and fisheries; conflict resolution; and perceptions of the environment by different ethnic groups. 

A qualitative scale is used as follows:

None: The field project activities to date do not comply with this characteristic and/or the characteristic is not relevant to the field project.
Slightly: The field project activities to date have begun in some preliminary way to satisfy  this characteristic.
Partially: The field project activities to date have gone some significant way towards fulfilling this characteristic.
Fully: The field project activities to date fully satisfy this characteristic.  

This assessment is based only on the activities undertaken to date, and does not include those planned for the future.

Have the project activities ensured long term benefit?  


As far as the exploitation of the shell middens is concerned, there are no current estimates of available volumes. Extraction of this non-renewable resource is on an opportunistic basis. Removal of shell middens causes the uprooting of baobab trees and environmental degradation. Initiatives are being considered to create alternative employment for the villagers.  One such initiative is to create an eco-museum and train eco-wardens. 

In a better-developed part of the Saloum Delta, the village of Dionewar, has benefited from alternative sources of livelihood.  Communities sell their agricultural products to local tourist resorts.  This village also hosts the headquarters of the rural community association. There is some competition among the villages to attract funds.

Do the project activities provide for capacity building and institutional strengthening?


UCAD works together with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the West African Association for the Marine Environment, and through this mutual cooperation, partnerships are established providing for capacity building of the NGOs and the UNESCO Chair. The local population develops its skills in planting and managing of mangroves based on experiments run in collaboration with UCAD scientists

Are the project activities sustainable? Partially

In the past, the approach has been essentially top-down with the government playing the key role.  The implementation of a participatory process allows for a gradual change from unidirectional government-driven activities to community-driven initiatives, e.g. communities determine their own actions and implement them in partnership with other stakeholders such as scientists, government bodies, NGOs, funding agencies. This provides for sustainability.

Have the project activities been transferred?


Some women members of the Dionewar Co-operative live in other villages. They are progressively transferring their experiences in co-operative management. It is, however, too early to say if the transfer is successful.

Are the project activities interdisciplinary and intersectoral?


The project activities involve several different disciplines: agro-forestry, sociology, human and physical geography, tourism development, archaeology, and geology. Field investigations were carried out by an intersectoral group including researchers, staff from the Fisheries Service, planners, fishermen knowledgeable about traditional practices, ‘transformatrices’ (women in charge of fish processing), fish wholesalers, religious and customary authorities.

Do the project activities incorporate participatory processes?


A participatory process is now a core element of the initiatives. Interestingly, the researchers emphasise that they too are part of this participatory process, as they need to be progressively accepted by the local communities so as to be allowed to work in the area. Some key contact persons, usually university lecturers, who originate from the area, help with establishing and maintaining local contact. 

The staff and students from the university collect reliable scientific data and have a wider view on natural resource management problems.  Both the data and the vision are shared with the communities. All the groups work together in a participatory manner to: 

  • Assess resource availability and constraints,

  • Assess production systems and their constraints,

  • Develop a managerial process,

  • Determine potential solutions to alleviate the identified constraints,

  • Define priority actions.

Do the project activities provide for consensus building?


Three general priority areas have been established: management of resources, conflict resolution, and development of income-generating activities. Specific priorities are then established based on field assessments and in collaboration with target groups.  For example, during the drafting of the fisheries management plan, meetings were held with the populations of Missirah and Betenti villages.  Three options, based on widespread consensus, were proposed for the sustainable management of Saloum fisheries: 

  • Strengthening of coastal and marine monitoring,

  • Use of adapted fishing techniques and gear,

  • Preservation and restoration of natural habitats.

Do the project activities include an effective and efficient communication process?


On each visit by the research team and students, a long meeting and discussion takes place with the different community representatives (chiefs, women, elders).  Although time-consuming, this meeting creates trust and triggers dialogue. The use of a consultative process in fisheries resource management involves all the fisheries stakeholders, and helps to ensure effective communication. Other communication tools such as chats, theatre, radio and television are also used.

Are the project activities culturally respectful?


The practice of removing shells from the burial mounds goes against general concepts for preservation and respect of ancient burials. Local communities do not accept this view, for in their eyes they have no kinship or ancestry relationships with the men and women buried within the middens. Some researchers try to justify respect for these burials solely on the basis of scientific interest. 

Research teams and students are careful to respect local customs, local communities and traditional hierarchies.  This is a key factor in the success of the project. Participatory fisheries management, with its emphasis on traditional practices and their value, shows for respect for local culture.

Do the project activities take into account gender and/or sensitivity issues?


Women play a key role in the economy and vitality of the community.  Due to their level of organisational skills they are at the forefront of development. Land management in Dionewar is dependent on the work of women. The male: female ratio is strongly skewed due to the emigration of men aged between 15 and 40 to Dakar or abroad. A large proportion of the local economy is supported by money sent from the capital or abroad. Women manage the co-operative store and take care of cultivation. While men do the fishing, women are in charge of fish processing. This allows women to buy canoes, become owners of fishing units, and take part in fish wholesale. Women play a paramount role in the regional fishing economy.

Do the project activities strengthen local identities?


The different ethnic groups (Niominka, Mandingues) experience similar constraints in terms of resource exploitation.  They also adopt the same new resource management techniques (e.g. mangrove reforestation). However, this move towards a standardisation of techniques does not diminish the distinctive nature of their traditional livelihoods.

Do the project activities shape national legal policy?


All activities must conform to local and national policies so as to receive official support. The new practices have not yet shaped national legal policy.

Do the project activities encompass the regional dimension?


The community support and research project covers a wide area both in and near the Saloum Biosphere Reserve. There are, however, no spin-off effects, transfers or extension beyond the immediate project area. 

Do the project activities provide for human rights?


The involvement of scientists and the sharing of their findings conform to Article 27.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that everyone has a right to share in progress and the benefits of scientific knowledge[1].   

Have the project activities been documented?


The list of final year and postgraduate diploma reports, theses and publications is given in the documentation section.

Have the project activities been evaluated?


This is the first evaluation.  

[1] Article 27.1 ‘Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits’.

Synthesis of main issues from the assessment 

  1. There is a need for further work on how to create alternative employment opportunities so as to reduce pressure on natural (mangrove, fish) and heritage (shell burial mounds) resources.

Revised future project activities   

  1. Further study the socio-cultural dimension of the use and access to natural resources, including constraints associated with sacred sites.

  2. Map the exploited shell burial mounds.

  3. Monitor the tree plantation activities.

  4. Add the full annotated bibliography of the Saloum Biosphere Reserve to the UCAD website.


Introduction Activities Publications Search
Wise Practices Regions Themes