Mega-Dams and Indigenous Human Rights
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Mega-Dams and Indigenous Human Rights

Itzchak Kornfeld

This original and insightful book explores and examines the impact that building mega-dams has on the human rights of those living in surrounding areas, and in particular those of indigenous peoples who are often most affected. Compiling case studies from around the world, Itzchak Kornfeld provides clear examples of how human rights violations are perpetrated and compounded, with chapters examining historical, recent and ongoing dam projects.
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Chapter 6: Dark lessons from the Senegal River

Itzchak Kornfeld


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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