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Lucia Michelini

Dakar, Senegal
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About Lucia
Lucia Michelini is an Italian ecologist and writer based in Dakar, Senegal.
She is a climate change and risk-informed programming specialist, and has worked between Senegal and Mali for several years.
She is well acquainted with the reality of West Africa and collaborates with various newspapers (e.g., Il Manifesto, Unimondo.org, Africa Rivista, Pressenza, Notizie Geopolitiche, Nigrizia).
English French Italian
Feature Stories Risk Analysis Research
Politics Science & Environment Natural Disasters

The symbolic and ecological impact of cutting down the larch forest in Cortina for the bobsleigh track

27 Feb 2024  |  Altreconomia
The planned bobsleigh track in Cortina d'Ampezzo for the 2026 Winter Olympics is facing criticism for its symbolic and ecological impact, particularly the deforestation of a centuries-old larch forest. Giorgio Vacchiano, a forestry expert, highlights the project's questionable utility and the negative message it sends about environmental sustainability. The forest, significant for its historical and cultural value, is being cut down without proper forest management protocols. The article underscores the importance of preserving natural ecosystems and questions the long-term benefits of such developments.

Bayer multinational attempts to take over regenerative agriculture

09 Dec 2023  |  altreconomia.it
Pharmaceutical multinational Bayer is accused of appropriating the manifesto of organic and regenerative agriculture, originally promoted by civil society organizations, without crediting the creators or referencing the original 'Charter'. This occurred when Bayer Crop Science published its 'program' for regenerative agriculture, mirroring the points from the 'Charter of Principles and Values of Organic and Regenerative Agriculture' created by the NGO Deafal in 2018. Deafal, which has been committed to biodiversity and sustainable agriculture since 2000, views Bayer's actions as a failure to recognize the true value of regenerative agriculture principles. The campaign 'Defend Regenerative' has been launched to counter this act of greenwashing. Additionally, the upcoming vote on December 11, 2023, regarding the European Commission's intention to deregulate genetically modified plants produced through new genomic techniques (NGTs), poses further risks to consumer health and the environment, with the proposal being supported by the GMO industry and certain MEPs.

In Senegal artisanal fishing is threatened by industry and the climate crisis

30 Dec 2022  |  Altreconomia
Artisanal fishing in Senegal is under severe threat from both climate change and industrial fishing practices. Local fishermen like El Hadji Diop report dwindling fish stocks and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. Activists such as Abdou Karim Sall and organizations like Greenpeace Africa highlight the detrimental impact of industrial fishing vessels, which deplete fish stocks and often operate illegally. The situation is exacerbated by international fishing agreements that favor foreign fleets over local fishermen, leading to increased food insecurity and economic challenges for coastal communities.

Burkina Faso is experiencing a climate of general insecurity due to the spread of the Sahelian conflict. Due to the recent escalation of clashes, war-displaced people are relentlessly increasing and thousands of children can no longer go to school.




Along the poisoned waters of the Niger River

15 Mar 2022  |  www.unimondo.org
Mamadou Ballo, an environmental and climate change specialist at the National Directorate of Water and Forests in Bamako, Mali, discusses the deteriorating health of the Niger River, the most important watercourse in West Africa. He highlights the impact of global warming on natural resources, particularly water, and its repercussions on human life, agriculture, livestock, and fishing. Irregular rainfall and increased evapotranspiration are causing water stress, affecting agriculture and reducing vegetation cover. The Niger River, which flows through several major cities including Bamako, is facing declining water quality and quantity due to various factors. The traditional fishing community, the Bozo people, are experiencing a scarcity of fish resources, leading to a shift in occupations. Urban agriculture in Bamako is essential for income and food, but cultivation along the riverbanks is causing water pollution and soil erosion. The article emphasizes the need for diversification of income sources to mitigate the risks associated with fishing and the general state of poverty.

In Senegal, after the rain, the weather does not clear up

15 Mar 2022  |  www.unimondo.org
Senegal's rainy season brings flooding that causes significant damage to homes and businesses, particularly in the capital, Dakar, and its suburbs like Keur Massar. Residents, such as Adama Sall and Madame Seck, face recurring expenses and losses due to the floods, with inadequate government response. Urbanization and poor infrastructure, including a lack of proper sewage systems, exacerbate the problem. Large infrastructure projects like highways and the Regional Express Train further obstruct water drainage. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts increased precipitation frequency and intensity with global warming, which could worsen the situation. The government's emergency response plan, ORSEC, is often insufficient, and there are allegations of misappropriated funds intended for flood mitigation.

Lucia Michelini's blog

Gold and Misery in West Africa

09 Feb 2022  |  il manifesto
West Africa, particularly Senegal and Mali, is rich in minerals like gold, which is a cornerstone of their exports. Large mining companies, often foreign, are responsible for extraction, causing significant social and environmental impacts, such as noise and atmospheric pollution, water demand, and contamination with cyanide and heavy metals. In Mali's Kayes region, protests have been held against chemical pollution from gold mining. Endeavour Mining, a Canadian multinational, owns 90% of Senegal's largest mine. Despite claims of safe and environmentally compliant operations, unemployment remains high, and many turn to illegal mining or migration to Europe. Mali's gold mining is a major export, with both industrial and traditional methods contributing to the economy. However, the informal gold search is growing, often overshadowing other activities. The mining industry is said to support over a million people in Mali, despite the presence of exploitative practices like 'petit marriage'. Mercury use is prevalent in artisanal sites, and gold is often exported illegally, with significant portions of the yield going to village chiefs, mine owners, guards, and administrative authorities.

Agroecological practices of 'Triticum Dolomiti' give oxygen back to Valbelluna

01 Jan 2022  |  Altreconomia
Two young farmers in Valbelluna, Mirco D’Incà and Johannes Keintzel, have initiated a project called 'Triticum Dolomiti' to cultivate ancient, climate-resistant cereals using agroecological principles. They aim to create sustainable food chains and enhance local biodiversity. Their practices include using a no-tillage seeder, supported by community crowdfunding, to preserve soil structure and promote natural nitrogen fixation. The project has the potential to revitalize the local economy and counteract youth depopulation in the region.

The flood victims of Bangui

17 Nov 2021  |  il manifesto
In Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, the population faces water scarcity due to deep, rudimentary wells drying up as the dry season approaches. However, the city also struggles with excess water, as evidenced by a tent city housing nearly 300 people displaced by the 2019 flood. The flood victims, including children, suffer from a lack of potable water and diseases like malaria, scabies, and typhoid. The World Bank predicts that temperatures in the country will rise significantly by the end of the century, leading to more frequent and intense rainfall, as well as longer dry periods. This will affect crop productivity and health, with farmers forced to seek new arable land and altered parasite dynamics potentially increasing disease transmission. Despite being one of the world's lowest producers of greenhouse gases, the Central African Republic is highly vulnerable to climate change, with limited access to basic social services, leaving the population unprepared for the anticipated climatic changes.

The pillory of the expelled

14 May 2021  |  il manifesto
The article discusses the challenges faced by Malian migrants expelled from France, highlighting the work of the Associazione Maliana degli Espulsi (Ame) in representing these individuals. Despite the risks of migration, many do not consider the difficulties of reintegrating upon return, facing social stigma and economic barriers. The story includes personal accounts from several returnees who share their experiences of failure, social rejection, and the persistent desire to migrate again in search of better opportunities. The article also touches on the role of international organizations in promoting reintegration programs and the unrealistic expectations placed on returnees to become successful entrepreneurs.

Mali, the utopia of the Great Green Wall does not sprout

03 Feb 2021  |  il manifesto
In Mali, the Great Green Wall project aimed at combating desertification and climate change is struggling to progress, with only 4% of the planned work completed. The country faces severe environmental challenges, exacerbated by conflict and security issues that lead to displacement and hinder development efforts. Local NGOs like Omadeza are working on reforestation, but the lack of coordination among international and local actors is a significant obstacle. The situation is dire as Mali's population, particularly in rural areas, is among the world's poorest and most affected by climate change.

Cultivating Senegal's rebirth

03 Feb 2021  |  il manifesto
Africa, particularly the Sahel region, is highly susceptible to desertification, with 45% of its territory already degraded. Dr. Oumar Sarr from Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal highlights the visible effects of desert encroachment, such as frequent sandstorms in Dakar. The Great Green Wall initiative has led to reforestation efforts using drought-tolerant species to combat soil erosion and food insecurity. However, challenges persist due to water scarcity, unsustainable land use, and demographic pressures. The National Agency of the Great Green Wall faces criticism for insufficient collaboration with universities and inadequate project monitoring. The article also discusses the social implications of land degradation, including forced migration due to lack of agricultural opportunities, and criticizes the European Union for exploiting resources while rejecting migrants. The need for a strong civil society to counteract corporate land grabs and empower youth through agroecology is emphasized.

Senegal. Face to face with a smuggler

09 Mar 2020  |  www.notiziegeopolitiche.net
Lucia Michelini interviews a Senegalese smuggler, 'Kalapo', who organizes dangerous boat journeys for migrants to Spain. Kalapo, a carpenter and ethnic Lebou, uses his skills to ensure the boats are seaworthy, equipped with GPS, and stocked with supplies. He charges 500,000 CFA per person and operates with a crew, taking advantage of less stringent controls in Gambia for departures. Despite the risks, many Senegalese are compelled to migrate, driven by the lack of local opportunities and the saying 'Barça ou Barsakh'—'Barcelona or death'. Kalapo, who once migrated himself, now profits from this desperation, and hopes to document his operations in a future project.

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