MSUS student travels to Senegal to help workshop locust booklets

This article was written by William H. Walker VI, a sophomore in the School of Sustainability. Edited December 2, 2020 by Alana Burnham.

Global Locust Initiative Senegal IPM

From left to right: Team members Fatou Bintou Sarr, Sidikarou Badiane, Braedon Kantola, and Alana Burnham pose with a CFSA participant at a sabar or drum circle in Boulel, Senegal.

Imagine you are in rural Senegal, working on a farm. It's your livelihood, your culture, and a part of your well-being. You grow millet, peanuts, maybe even some tomatoes or eggplant. You do all you can to take care of your farm and your family. Yet, there is cause for concern: locusts and grasshoppers. One day, your field is suddenly overtaken by a swarm. You call your government’s USDA equivalent, but by the time agents arrive to spray pesticides, your harvest is all gone. How can you prevent this? What can be done to empower farmers? One way is by teaching them to identify and monitor pest species, so that they can inform authorities early on and outbreaks can easily be controlled. That’s what a team at Global Locust Initiative is working on, as a part of their larger project Communities for Sustainable Agriculture (CFSA) funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. Collaborating with the Senegalese Plant Protection Directorate (Direction de la Protection des Végétaux or DPV), locust experts in Senegal and France, and Senegalese community members, the team created a booklet on identification of locally relevant locust and grasshopper species. Master of Sustainability Solutions (MSUS) student Braedon Kantola assisted this team as a part of his culminating experience—which brought him all the way to Senegal.

In February 2020, Kantola accompanied booklet-lead and outreach specialist Alana Burnham to communities in central Senegal, where the team workshopped symbols and illustrations developed for the identification booklet. Along with local locust experts Sidikarou Badiane, Alioune Beye, and Fatou Bintou Sarr, they met with 100 farmers to gather feedback.

Global Locust Initiative Senegal Meeting

Entomologist Fatou Bintou Sarr presents the first edition of the identification booklet to CFSA participants in Nganda, Senegal.

The finished identification booklet covers several topics: a general background on locust and grasshopper anatomy; species identification information such as markings, habitat, and diet; and contact information for local DPV agents. Written in French and Wolof, Senegal’s predominant local language, the booklet includes illustrations developed by Kara Brooks, a graduate student at the Herberger Institute for the Design and the Arts. This resource will complement a previous booklet on monitoring techniques, which is now available on GLI’s website.

Global Locust Initiative Senegal women group

A CFSA participant in Nganda, Senegal, reads a finished booklet on locust management. Participants in Nganda helped provide feedback on the booklets during the revision process.

During his time in Senegal, Kantola visited several rural communities, picked up a few phrases of Wolof, and even participated in a few Senegalese sabar or drum circles. Says Kantola, “having worked on this project has opened my eyes to so many experiences and learning opportunities.”