Ibrahima Sorry Diallo
During my youth, I got engaged in citizen movements, I learned to contribute to the development of my country and I have informed myself about associative life. I was able to understand the issues and problems that my country faced in its development. I decided to put the experience in youth movements for to work on the development of my region and country.
We set up the NGO “Lumière” to defend the interests of local communities in mining sites in Senegal. In the areas where we work, the population is almost illiterate, at a rate of 90%, and studies have revealed that they are the poorest regions of Senegal. Yet these areas are full of natural resources, mainly minerals. At first, we were working on issues of children working in mines before we decided to focus on monitoring the governance of the sector. To better work on this issue, I went to other mining countries, including Ghana and Mali, to get inspiration from the experiences of civil societies there.
Senegal may be a new mining country but mining companies have exploited our resources for decades. Senegal’s negotiation power with the companies is weak because of the lack of experience, expertise, and because of pervasive corruption. Because of this, we end up with governments working in partnership with companies and against the best interests of the citizens and against civil society.
We still face threats from the government and from mining companies. In addition, the state is trying to intimidate us so that we’ll stop our monitoring work. We have refused and personally I had to resign from my teaching position because you can’t speak out when you are a civil servant. Nevertheless, young Senegalese citizens have believed in this work and have joined me which is what allowed us to create the Senegalese PWYP coalition, of which I am President.