Hope, smiles and new vitality seem to be returning slowly but surely in various parts of the Sahel region, where the mighty Sahara Desert has all but ‘eaten’ and degraded huge parts of landscapes, destroying livelihoods and subjecting many communities to extreme poverty.
Thousands of logs loaded into makeshift boats at the port of Inongo at Lake Mai-Ndombe stand ready to be transported to Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Bouba Diop looks in delight at his uncle’s newly refurbished food canteen in the poor township of Keur Massar on the outskirts of the Senegalese capital Dakar.
Malian widow Mariama Sow, 30, and her three children are trying to find some semblance of normalcy in their lives in Dakar, Senegal, since they left the historic city of Timbuktu in northern Mali last June to escape the Islamist occupation.
Congolese small-scale miner Elizabeth Tshimanga has made a successful living from prospecting. But like many artisanal miners in Africa, hers has been a long and tough journey marred by harassment and disputes over her legal status as a miner.
One of Amina Diallo’s sons, 14-year-old Salif, has been missing since August last year. She thinks Islamists kidnapped him while he was on his way to the market in their hometown of Gao, in northern Mali, and recruited him as a child soldier.
When Abdoulaye Ba heard his local Imam in Dakar, Senegal, speaking out against child marriage, he found that the idea was not very palatable to him. As head of his family, he had intended to marry off his three teenage daughters.
A 25-year-old mother of five hailing from Senegal’s eastern Tambacounda province believes that contraceptives damage the womb and cause health problems in the long term, such as a rise in blood pressure and chronic headaches.
In the midst of the building frenzy in Senegal, the construction of buildings that cost less than 60,000 dollars, and thus do not require a building permit, is going unchecked by authorities, resulting in the haphazard and unsafe construction of a majority of homes.
Fatou (40), Awa (32) and Aissatou Gaye (24) sit in a meditative mood on the tiled floor outside their matrimonial home in Keur Massar, a township in the Senegalese capital Dakar.