Life at Lekela 2023 Part 1 – Ousmane Diedhiou, Community Liaison Officer, Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye, Senegal

Lekela is an international organisation, with our people based in Senegal, Egypt, South Africa and the UK. We want to shine a light on the amazing work our people do across Africa and in Europe and hear directly from our employees on what life at Lekela is really like.

We’re speaking to different employees across Lekela to get an insight into the type of work they’re doing and the impact it is having. We’ve heard from Ousmane Diedhiou, Community Liaison Officer at Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye, our windfarm in Senegal.

Ousmane tells us about a waste management project the team has set up in Taiba N’Diaye, the area local to PETN, the approach Lekela takes in working closely with local communities and the impact it’s had on both local communities and Lekela’s mission. Read on below!

Tell us about your role at Lekela?

I’m the Community Liaison Offer at Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye. My role is to manage all of Lekela’s community work with people who live in and around Taiba N’Diaye, and to oversee PETN’s Community Grievance Mechanism, through which we keep track of any issues the local community have with our projects and how we work through them.

Our role is to develop and maintain good relationships with local communities and all our stakeholders, through which we can encourage them to get involved in our projects.

Can you tell us about a project you have recently worked on in Taiba N’Diaye?

Following discussions with local groups, we found that household waste disposal was causing problems in Taiba N’Diaye. Together with PETN-Town Hall and UCG (Unité de la Coordination de la Gestion des déchets solides, or Solid Waste Management Coordination Unit), we decided to implement a waste management programme.

We installed 15 household waste collection points, which we call Standardised Regrouping Points (PRNs) in the six villages in the area with the biggest populations. Eight months since the project started, we have seen a notable increase in people’s awareness and sense of responsibility in caring for their environment through disposing of their waste and by carrying out reforestation activities.

The success of this initial pilot project has also allowed us to add 11 more PRNs in other villages around the commune.

How have you worked with the local community to develop this project?

We employ an inclusive approach to all of our work with local communities by helping create a multi-stakeholder committee, which discusses and plans all projects that are being implemented as part of the municipal investment plan, including this waste management project. The committee aims to ensure that as many local groups as possible are represented, including members from municipal councils, associations of village chiefs and imams, women’s groups, the youth council, students and zone delegates.

The City Council and the UCG also launched a communication campaign on the project to update local populations and help target sites for the installation of the PRNs. During the pilot phase, we also organised a cleaning day to mobilise people and build interest in managing waste in the municipality.

In addition, we recruited a GIE (Economic Interest Group) of 15 young people from across the area to collect garbage from the PRN and facilitate its transport to the Tivaouane regulatory landfill.

What impact has the project had? How do you measure the impact, and what happens after the project is complete?

The waste management project has had a real impact on people’s living environment and behaviour, with people across the community contributing to waste collection. Litter dumps have also been eradicated and over 7000 tons of garbage were collected during the initial eight month pilot phase.  We’ve even had community members ask for more work in this area – the fact that the community is perceiving the project well means that it’s had a genuine impact on people’s lives.

We will be leading the project for a total of two years, and working with the UCG to ensure its continuing success in the years to come. Long-term sustainability is a strong requirement for most of the projects we carry out with local communities. Waste management is also an important competence for the municipal council.

Why do you think it’s important for companies like Lekela to give back to the communities where they operate?

We know our ESG initiatives have been welcomed by the people who live in Taiba N’Diaye. But even among the municipalities in the wider Méouane district, we’ve heard that people would welcome similar programmes from other organisations.

Most importantly, it’s vital that we work closely with local communities to strengthen trust between communities and the project, therefore increasing our social licence and building a peaceful, neighbourly environment.