Senegal's Goree Island attracts tourists and their plastic pollution

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Goree Island, a symbol of the Atlantic slave trade off the coast of Dakar, is seeing plastic waste accumulate on its fragile environment, despite the precautions taken by the municipality.

"Every day we are confronted with the same behaviour, people throw plastic waste on the island and yet there are two rubbish bins in front of each house". Abdoulaye Mbaye, sanitation head on the island of Goree said. "At times, the island receives about 1,000 visitors per day and they bring a lot of plastic waste that they leave on the site. We clean up every day and every two days we get rid of 700 to 800 kilos of waste in Dakar."

Discarded plastic is hard to ignore in Senegal. The litter can’t go unnoticed. Mbaye says they are doing their utmost best to address the problem.

"For better waste management, the island's town hall has set up a system of sorting and composting to transform and value organic waste. The compost that comes out of this chain is used to develop the flora of the island and to generate profits with the sale of the product in other regions. It is now possible to sort the waste. Moreover, this compost is certified ISO 14001."

The Senegalese government is one of the latest African countries to expand a ban on single-use plastics.

The ban took effect in December 2021. The west african nation is the world’s 21st-largest contributor to ocean waste in 2010, despite having the 44th-largest coastal population in the world. The country produced more than 250,000 tons of mismanaged plastic waste in 2010 is expected to produce 738,000 tons by 2025, according to a 2020 study.

A fisherman in Goree Island admits the harm caused by plastic pollution is enormous.

"The plastic waste has caused a lot of damage on the island. Now, I have to go very far from the island, at least three kilometers, to hope to find fish because there are too many plastics in the area that scare the fish away." Ousseynou Guèye.

On December 5th, 2020, the mayor of Gorée launched the “Gorée zero waste” project to change the situation. But since then, not much has been done to have any significant impact.

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