A unique academic program that brings together local and foreign students to promote ecovillage knowledge and practices in rural communities of Senegal.
The aim of the academic program is to promote ecovillages principles and practices in these rural communities. It creates overlapping communities of students, staff, homestays, experts, university professors, community leaders and youth to actively support the transition of traditional villages into ecovillages.
Study Abroad Program Director: Dr. Ousmane Pame is an educator and a community leader.
He worked as the resident Academic Director of Living Routes at the Dakar Earth Rights Ecovillage Institute. He is the director of the academic program in ecovillages which engages international and local students in rural community projects.
Since 1997, Dr Pame has been actively involved in community development projects in Senegal (capacity building, permaculture, agroforestry, fish farming, drinking water, nutrition and food processing programs for rural areas). He has been supporting underserved schoolchildren in his region through distribution of free school and classroom construction materials. Thirty-five villages have benefited from his programs.
In December 2007, after participating in an ecovillage design course in Auroville (India), he introduced the ecovillage concept to his community (7000 people). Two years later, he was elected as mayor of the Guédé Chantier, the first in the history of his community. During his mandate, he strived to transition his municipality into an eco-community and also supported the transition of other communities in the West African region. He is a founding member and President of the Global Ecovillage Network/ Africa and of REDES (Network for Ecovillage Emergence and Development in the Sahel).
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The eco-community, Guede, is located in northern Senegal and is much greener than the all surrounding villages. It is an oasis in a semi-arid area.
The community is striving to preserve its traditions, protect biodiversity and intends to be a living learning center for the entire Senegal River Valley and for the country as a whole. A number of initiatives are currently taking place in the community: genetic resource center, fish farming, community garden, children nutrition program, cleaning up, etc.
Currently, our community would like to start a bee-keeping program, but has no experts in this field. The bee population is very important in Guédé but is now becoming a public danger. Recently, a 65 year old man was killed by a bee attack. Two years before, when I was presiding a meeting with district chiefs in the community orchard, we were attacked by bees. Some of us were very seriously affected. Now some of the community members are afraid and think the solution is to kill the bees, which of course would be a major environmental disaster. I believe we can make a prosperous business producing and selling honey and wax in the region, country and even abroad. We urgently need to reconcile the bee population with the community.
The second project that needs volunteers and supporters is the fish farming project. It was co-funded by our local government and Counterpart International and is now managed by the association of the eco-community fishermen. While it produces fish and the farmers have considerable knowledge, our community aim is to take the project to a higher level, which would involve integrating with local agriculture to increase the yields and lessen the cost of the fish production. Currently, the fishermen are finding it more and more difficult to buy food for the fish.
Another important project that needs support is the genetic resource center. It used to be a vibrant learning center for the farmers of Guede and surrounding villages where they could learn how to do composting and fight pests without chemical pesticides. The resource center also produces seeds of endangered medicinal plants which are distributed free of charge to farmers. Its seed bank is an essential component in the resource center but now, because of a lack of funds the project is losing ground.
Please spread the word to individuals and institutions who may be interested in working with us. And also please feel free to contact me if you have further questions.
Thank you so much for your consideration and time.
Ousmane Aly Pame
President of Gen Africa
Mayor of the Eco-community of Guede Chantier