Chapter 6: Dark lessons from the Senegal River
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The Senegal River flows through four western African countries of Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal, and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The dams have been described as a “luxury car without a motor”; an “act of economic and environmental nonsense”; and a “Potemkin dam.” Furthermore, the dams and their reservoirs have caused “social disparities and malnutrition,” unknown in pre-dam times. They have also impacted communities with a host of waterborne diseases and destroyed productive farming practices by the indigenous people who have lived along the Senegal for hundreds of years. Indeed, the previously “rich Senegal valley has become the most impoverished in the region.” Likewise, the Senegal River valley’s peasants declared in 1992 that those families who have remained in the villages along the river are unable to earn a living because their crops wither and fish and livestock die due to lack of forage. Moreover their hope is depleted.

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