Update October 27th:
Today our friends have been released after five nights in detention. We welcome this great news and we are happy and relieved that Babacar Diouf and the others who were arrested will soon be back with their loved ones.
Nonetheless this was a very bad signal from Senegalese authorities and police and an indication of the growing restriction on civic space in Senegal. It is unacceptable that freedom of expression is restricted, people should not have to go to jail for peacefully expressing their opinion - especially when their livelihood is at stake.
In various countries in the Sahel, vast tracts of degraded land have been restored by the local population by nurturing what spontaneously springs from the soil. They do this using a method called 'Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR)'.
In the first two years of the programme "Communities Regreen the Sahel", more than 10,000 farmers have been trained in Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration and the practice has expanded to more than 44,000 ha. Moreover, the number of agreements by farmers and nomadic pastoralists has increased significantly, which is important to avoid conflict over land use.
After many years of resistance, in 2019 residents of Bargny, Senegal welcomed the shutdown of a coal plant in their community, as local fisherwomen retain access to their fish drying grounds. The case shows how complaint mechanisms can be a powerful tool to enforce change.
Even as climate change intensifies these challenging conditions, the Sahel need not become a desert. Unsustainable agricultural practices and overgrazing are among the main factors causing land degradation in the Sahel, which is threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. Fortunately, organisations like CRESA in Niger have shown that with the right approach, desertification of the Sahel can be reversed.