Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
colbartn.gif (4535 octets)

Field Project Assessment
Socio-cultural issues in a traditional coastal community, conservation of biological and cultural diversity, Yoff, Senegal

Date of
21st 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, Director, UNESCO Chair University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) Diplôme d’Etudes Approfonfies (DEA); Mr. Bachir Diouf, Department of Geology, UCAD; Mr. Amadou A. Sow, Department of Geography, UCAD; Mr. Gorgui Ciss, Department of Geography, UCAD; Mr. Nicolas Diallo, Department of Plant Biology, UCAD; Mr. Oumar Diene, Representative for the President of Association for the Economic, Cultural and Social Promotion of Yoff (APECSY); Mr. El Hadji Mamadou Sonko, student UCAD-UNESCO Chair; Mr. Pessiezoum Adjoussi, student UCAD-UNESCO Chair.   
  1. ECO-Yoff Bulletin, Sept - Oct 1996 (in English).
  2. Natural sacred sites, the case of a Lebou village in the suburb of Dakar, Richard Dumez, DEA memoir (1998).
  3. UNESCO 2000. Yoff, le territoire assiégé. Un village lébou dans la banlieue de Dakar. Coastal Region and Small Island Papers 7, Paris, 90 pp.

  1. Meeting at the headquarters of APECSY with representatives of the following associations and committees:

  • Mr. Oumar Diene, Centre of Resources for the Emergence of Social Participation (CRESP/APECSY).

  • Mr. Seydina Issa Ndiaye, Lord Mayor of Yoff.

  • Mr. Lamine Ndoye, (APECSY).

  • Mr. Mbaye Beye, National Association of Beach Rescue Wardens (ANNSSB).

  • Mr. Moustapha Diene, Beach Warden, ANNSSB.

  • Mr. Mame Boubou Ndir, Fish wholesalers group and Yoff’s Coastal Monitoring Committee.

  • Mr. Mamadou Lamine Sylla, Representative of Commune of Yoff’s district (CAY).

  • Mrs. Kadija Ba, Senegalese Association for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ASPREM).

  • Mr. Papa Fall Dieye, President of the local Fishermen’s Union.

  • Mr. Aly Mbaye, Social Educators and Instructors Committee (CECEY) and Yoff’s Development Committee (YDC).

  • Mrs. Aminata Diop, Sociologist, CAY.

  • Mr. Baye Mbaye Gueye, Ousmane Sembene’s Library of Yoff (BOSY).

  • Mrs. Marian Zeitlin, CRESP.

  • Mr. Alassane Faye, BOSY.

  • Mr. Babacar Gnasse, Yoff Students’ Association.

  • Mr. Abdonlaye Ronald Diop, Co-ordinator of activities at the Ecocentre, APECSY.

  • Mr. Mamar Diouf, Beach Operator.

  • Mr. Fatou Gueye Sene, student/educator.

  • Mr. Mamadou Lamine Samb, APECSY.

  • Mrs. Fatim Diop, leader of women involved in fish processing.

  • Mr. Djibil Sylla Zico, APECSY.

  • Mr. Adji Ndeye Diene, Development project for early childhood -CRESP.

  1. Field visits to look at the impact of human pressure, e.g. construction on the upper beach and use of litter for coastal defence works at Yoff Beach; meeting with women in charge of fish processing.
Constraints: Lack of time for individual discussions with representatives of the associations attending the meeting.

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 original project focused on the study of Lebous’ sacred sites (1996 -1998). Although UNESCO has not provided any direct assistance for studies in Yoff since 1998, students from the Chair continued to undertake final year DEA dissertations on the area.

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?  


Three generations of women involved in fish processing live and work together. Since 1996 they have modernised their fish processing technique. Their income covers payment of various staff but is not enough to allow further investment, such as commercialisation of their products, which would guarantee more income. There is also an issue of decreasing fish resources, which means there may be no long-term future for processing. Despite the uncertainty, competition results in continued improvement in the management of the fish processing business in order to ensure long-term benefit. For example, important initiatives are being undertaken in sanitation to allow for the recycling of solid and liquid wastes on the site.  

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


APECSY is a well-established association and produces an ECO-Yoff Bulletin for the environment. Collaboration between APECSY and UCAD provides reliable field information, which strengthens APECSY in its role to educate and raise awareness among the communities. However, there needs to be harmonisation of the numerous initiatives undertaken by members of APECSY.

Are the project activities sustainable? Partially

The motivation of the various associations, both those with and without financial support, is a key factor in the sustainability of problem identification and awareness building activities. For those without financial support, personal motivation is the only factor driving activities and is the guarantee of their long-term involvement. Implementation of solutions to problems like waste disposal, coastal erosion, and dwindling fish resources, is often jeopardised by a lack of financial resources. The activity involving fish processing women workers has been running since 1959 and appears to be self-financing. However, there are insufficient funds to strengthen their control of product commercialisation.  

Have the project activities been transferred?


The Association for the Economic, Cultural and Social Promotion of Ndiaye  (APECSON) has adopted the APECSY approach. People who used to live in Yoff launched a similar initiative and established their own association when they returned to their community in Ndiaye, in the region of Fatick.  The experience of the Coastal Monitoring Committee is also in the process of being transferred elsewhere.

Are the project activities interdisciplinary and intersectoral?


APECSY includes a large array of associations and organisations covering fields such as environment, education, the fishing sector, and health.  The ECO-Yoff Bulletin is jointly published by APECSY and the City Council.

Do the project activities incorporate participatory processes?


Full and transparent participation is a key element of the APECSY approach and of its partners and members. It must be emphasised, however, that the communities do not always distinguish between scientific studies and donor-funded projects. Consequently expectations are often high and misunderstanding sometimes results.  

Do the project activities provide for consensus building?


There is consensus on the issues to tackle, but no local entity has prioritised these issues, although sanitation appears to be the main priority for the population. Donors have their own priorities for funding. The fish processing women workers and fishermen from the Coastal Monitoring Committee agree on the need for integrating an ecological dimension into their practices, e.g. the use of disposal bins for fish offal, use of authorised fishing nets, abandonment of non-authorised fishing methods and beach maintenance. A consensus is developing on implementing the existing regulation banning beach sand removal, although it is not yet fully adopted; and also on the importance of preserving Yoff Island as a sacred site, as demonstrated by the strong opposition to the building of a navigation beacon there.

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


Due to the social transformation related to urbanisation, it is important to develop multiple communication channels to reach as many people as possible. It is sometimes necessary to use ‘go-between’ persons of moral stature (such as a local Imam) to raise awareness among the population.  The fact that beach sand removal stopped is the result of awareness building, strongly supported by documentation elaborated in the field studies carried out by the Chair.  The collaboration of APECSY and the City Council in publishing the ECO-Yoff Bulletin is another example of effective communication.  

Are the project activities culturally respectful?


Despite urban pressure and societal changes, the Lebous maintain a very strong link to their traditional values, especially the sacred coastal sites. When rights and customs are not respected it is usually out of ignorance on the part of recently settled populations. Such cases are rare occurrences. The settlement of these new groups on the outskirts of the Lebous’ communities is generating problems relating to leisure areas, especially access to beaches.

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


The fish processing women workers train the next generation. Three generations thus work together in the fish processing industry. They manage their own activities with the help of a co-ordinator.

Do the project activities strengthen local identities?


Despite the pressure from urbanisation and modernisation, the fish processing women workers maintain their traditional fish processing methods for the benefit of the oldest workers still active. The local Lebous’ work identity is thus maintained.  

Do the project activities shape national legal policy?


All activities must conform to the government hierarchical decision-making process. Authorities are informed of achievements so they can validate them. In this perspective, the collaboration and partnership between APECSY and the district is a major achievement. There is, however, no evidence that this has had an impact on the national legal policy.

Do the project activities encompass the regional dimension?


All project activities focus on local issues and interventions. A national network of eco-villages is being set up. The ECO-Yoff programme, through its training component, allows for young people from the village to take part in technical capacity building activities in other African countries, especially English-speaking ones.

Do the project activities provide for human rights?


The numerous communities, women’s groups and other stakeholders in Yoff are represented and participate freely in meetings and projects, thereby conforming to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [1].   

Have the project activities been documented?


Project activities have been fully documented, see the list at the beginning of this assessment.

Have the project activities been evaluated?


This is the first overall assessment.  

[1] Article 19: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’.

Synthesis of main issues from the assessment 

  1. There is a need for improved coordination of the activities and projects being planned and undertaken by APECSY, so as to propose a unified approach to the Mayor, who is the representative of central government, and to donors.  Prioritisation of the issues and the problems to be tackled might be the first step in improving coordination.

Revised future project activities   

  1. Improve communication between the various associations, especially those involved in environmental awareness (wastes and sanitation) by developing community radio, producing a video on Yoff, and preparing an updated socio-economic profile of the community.

  2. Strengthen the collaboration between UCAD and the Yoff community by studying issues such as the transformation of land uses, access to sites and resources, and associated conflicts.

  3. Provide copies of UCAD publications to the community library.

Introduction Activities Publications Search
Wise Practices Regions Themes