INTRODUCTION: A multi-million-dollar irrigation scheme to harness the waters of the Senegal River in the fight against drought in the Sahel region of Senegal is already having a positive effect in assisting the people of this long-suffering region.
GV Sahel Desert. (2 SHOTS)
GV Village with small children running.
GV & SV Dead animal. (2 SHOTS)
GV & SV Man in plantation with horse drawn implement.
GV PAN Work on building dam.
GV PAN Women carrying water as water channel flows towards desert.
GV & SV Men hauling water from well. (3 SHOTS)
GV & SV Water channel flowing through fertile area and women taking water.
GV & SV Cattle arriving to drink from water channel. (2 SHOTS)
GV PAN Water channel flowing through fields of green.
SV & CU Men harvesting corn. (2 SHOTS)
SV PAN Man goes to water to fill watering cans and waters garden. (2 SHOTS)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: A multi-million-dollar irrigation scheme to harness the waters of the Senegal River in the fight against drought in the Sahel region of Senegal is already having a positive effect in assisting the people of this long-suffering region. The scheme includes the construction of a dam and ancillary irrigation canals and is not due for completion until 1984, but already it is helping turn this desert area into fertile land.
SYNOPSIS: This the Sahel Desert region of Senegal, an area subject to frequent drought which brings continual hardship and suffering to the people of the villages. Crops are difficult to grow in an uncertain climate and the high animal mortality rate makes it impossible for local communities to support themselves at anything much above subsistence level. But now, an irrigation scheme under the auspicies of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is bringing new hope to the region.
Near the small town of Saint Louis, some 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the Senegalese capital, Dakar, work is well in hand on the new dam. Here, the Senegal River forms the border between Senegal and Mauritania. The two nations are undertaking the new venture jointly with Mali, since the Senegal River flows through that country, too. The total scheme will irrigate 375,000 hectares (926,000 acres) as well as providing an 800-kilowatt power supply. But for the people of the Senegal valley, the arrival of new, dependable water supplies is the most important factor.
Before the creation of special irrigation canals, their livelihood depended on the annual flooding of the Senegal River, which brought the harvest. During the last decade, however, the rains and the flooding have often failed, reducing the Sahel region to an unfertile dust-bowl. Now, along with irrigation, the Sahel people have benefited from the introduction of more hardy cattle, imported from France, to increase milk production while being better able to resist infection.
Drought has always been Senegal's most deadly enemy, making the problem of the 700,000 people of the Sahel region one of subsistence. The aim of the new irrigation scheme is to ensure that these people can look forward to regular harvests. And, aside from the human factor, agriculture plays an important part in Senegal's economy, with groundnuts being a major export revenue-earner. Until now, the climate and the uncertain rains have been the principal factor in determining the well-being of this cash crop and nearly three-quarters of a million people. Today, that age-old dependence on the weather may be a thing of the past.