Settled in Senegal, in the region of Thiès for about a decade, the company SEPHOS.SA has been a true parasite for the village of Koudiadiène.
Thiès is one of the regions of Senegal located 70 km east of the Dakar region, the administrative and economic capital of Senegal. Thus, the village of Koudiadiène is halfway between the region of Thiès and Tivaouane. It is one of the many villages that make up the commune of Chérif Lô (which is one of the municipalities of the department of Tivaoune). It is inhabited mainly by farmers who derive their income from the exploitation of the fields currently occupied by the enterprise.
The Senegalese Phosphates Company or SEPHOS.SA is an extractive company specialized in the production and commercialization of calcium phosphate (lime stone). Calcium phosphate is a major ingredient of fertilizer. The objective of SEPHOS.SA in Koudiadiène is the exploitation of phosphate in order to transport it to Europe for commercial production of fertilizer. The exploitation of this mineral is accompanied is accompanied by noise and dust and constitute enormous health hazard for the community.
Since the arrival of the company to Koudiadiène, the company continues to loot the ground resources of the community without any qualm of conscience in spite of the miserable economic and social situation of local populations. It must be admitted that in 2012, SEPHOS in collaboration with Impulso Foundaton and the commune of Cherif-Lo built a primary school in the area but that is the only contribution of the Corporation to the community since its inception. However, it is important to note as well that SEPHOS has made a number of commitments to the community but none of them has seen the light of the day. Among other things, SEPHOS committed itself to the following:
– Employment of local youth
– financing women projects;
– water the dusty road every day, allow children to share in their trucks while going to school and even tar it in the future;
– donate medicine to the medical dispensary;
– Backfill the holes they dug for prospections;
– provide accommodation for students; etc.
AEFJN and REDES have provided support for the community in their discussion with SEPHOS and precisely in May 2017, there was a meeting involving AEFJN, REDES during a meeting between AEJFN, REDES, representatives of the population of Koudiadiéne and officials of SEPHOS Company. It is worth remembering that Mr. Nolasco who heads the corporation in Senegal assured the people of Koudiadiéne that things would never be as before. He further made firm promises to the community that have remained so far unfulfilled. Here are some unfulfilled promises of Mr. Nolasco:
– Provide medicines to the Koudiadiène dispensary.
– Allow the ambulance of the mine to be at the disposal of the dispensary when needed.
– Attend to the job demands of young villagers of Koudiadiène (he asked young people to apply for jobs).
– Complete the project of water supply which the priests of Koudiadiène had begun.
– Create a horticulture training school for young people in Koudiadiène.
– Create a micro-credit system for women with fairer rates than the current rates.
Of greater concern is the failure of SEPHOS to fulfil their promise of scholarship to best students from Koudiadiéne for their tertiary education. Most of these students who are studying in Dakar are in very difficult conditions due housing, tuition and upkeep. Added to this, is the insecurity of the elementary school children who the trucks and other cars of the SEPHOS cross every day in a tide of dust while going to school. The distance between the school and Koudiadiène is about 2 km.
In Koudiadiéne there is a medical dispensary which attends to all the villages of the commune of Chérif-Lo. This dispensary hosts patients who come from various localities of the country. Surprisingly, however, it receives no help (medicines) from SEPHOS. Meanwhile, there is a rapid increase in some diseases among the population of Koudiadiène such as respiratory, dermatologic and ocular diseases, etc. due to the extractive activities of the corporation. The dispensary manager stated it this way to me: “We are not sure whether these diseases are related to the company’s activities, but what we have noticed is an increase of these diseases in the population of Koudiadiène (especially in children) since the installation of the company.”
However, to know if these diseases are related to the activities of the company a dust sample is being analyzed in laboratories that will allow us to make more accurate statement about this information, meanwhile the table below shows the data for the last three and half years.
|Cough and Colds||819||1754||1996||652|
Source : dispensaire de Koudiadiéne
Furthermore, the Catholic nun in charge of the medical dispensary told us that she has no evidence to link the dust of the extraction to diseases in the community but what is certain is that pulmonary diseases especially asthma has become more frequent in the locality especially among little children.
Samuel Natacha B. NDIOLENE
(Citizen of Koudiadiène)