Project on cultural development in Senegal

The Delta du Saloum become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2011. © UNESCO/Anne Müller

The MDG-F project is a joint programme of UNESCO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNIDO, UNESCO and UNWTO to promote cultural industries and initiatives in Senegal.

The project works hand in hand with the national authorities in Senegal in particular the Cultural Heritage Bureau of Senegal. 

Coordinated by UNESCO Dakar, the project covers two regions in Senegal, namely the Pays Bassari in the southeastern corner of the country and the Delta of Saloum in the central part. 

The Pays Bassari is a hilly region bordering Guinea of some 100.000 people. It is an ethnic diverse region including groups such as Bassari, Bédik, Kognagui, Diallonké and Bappen which live in poverty and lack of socio-economic infrastructure.

The Delta of Saloum is located in central western Senegal in the Sine Saloum region. This region of some 200.000 people is known for its diverse landscapes and unique ecosystems, including mudflats, resting places and dormitories of birds, strings of islands, acting as their breeding grounds.

The project particularly takes into account the need of creating income generation activities for vulnerable groups.

The 3-year project began in 2009 and runs until December 2012. The budget of $6.5 million is funded by the Government of Spain.

Main achievements

Dancers during the pre-premiere of the Grand Ballet Bassari in January 2012. © UNESCO/Anne Müller

Both regions were added as World Heritage sites as part of the project.

The Delta of Saloum was added in June 2011 and the Bassari Country in July 2012. This is important as it gives visibility and may attract more funding, tourists, investments, etc. 

Two community centers have been constructedl, one in the village of Toubacouta (Delta of Saloum) and another one in the village of Bandafassi (Bassari Country). 

Each centre includes: 

  • A structure for young children (0-5 years)
  • A house for women
  • A space for young people
  • A village for local craftsmen

Community Multimedia Centres, in particular local radios, have been strenghened in both regions. Radio volunteers have received training on such topics as gender quality, nutrition and cultural rights.

The Grand Ballet Bassari has been created. It is a ballet comprising the main ethnic groups of the Bassaari Country. The premiere took place in January 2012 and the aim is to have it perform in Senegal as well as neighbouring countries. 

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