Extreme E progresses legacy projects in Senegal
A year on from the Ocean X Prix in Season 1, Extreme E returned to Lac Rose, Senegal, as part of its continued commitment to fighting climate change and supporting communities in the area.
The vast expanse of the Atlantic was a scenic backdrop for the second event on the Extreme E calendar last year, but a closer look revealed the challenges the environment and its locals face as a result of climate change and plastic pollution.
For its Senegal Legacy Programme, Extreme E continues to work with the EcoZone Project, TO.org and Oceanium as part of an expansive effort vital in helping their country’s residents.
From planting mangroves to fighting plastic pollution, the sport for purpose series continues to support each of these initiatives. Drivers Catie Munnings, Kevin Hansen and Christine GZ, and Scientific Committee member Professor Lucy Woodall, returned with the Championship to witness first-hand just how much progress has been made.
The group revisited the mangrove plantation and schools involved in the EcoZone project to see how the projects have developed and receive feedback from the Championship’s partners in the country.
Ali Russell, Chief Marketing Officer of Extreme E, said: “We feel that these projects are ones which play to the countries strengths and reinforces what we’re doing.
“We’re not just coming to race – we didn’t race in Senegal this year – we’re here to develop the project and it’s great to see first-hand how much development there has been. It’s about taking local families and helping them with employment too. So, there is the climate aspect and fighting the sea level rise but also investing in the community.”
Extreme E strives to leave a positive legacy at each race location, accelerating vital solutions to some of the world’s biggest social and environmental challenges. Senegal has been heavily affected by plastic pollution and rising sea levels where the Championship saw first-hand last year the mountain of single-use plastic washing up on the country’s beaches, threatening ocean and marine health.
Working with local social business GroupeSenghor and its Legacy Partner TO.org, Extreme E continues to support the EcoZone Project. The goal of the project is to build a sustainable community through the provision of guidance, information and resources, empowering self-sufficiency, and economic autonomy.
Stephan Senghor runs the EcoZone project in the region of Niaga, which is located just five kilometres from the start line of last year’s X Prix and is home to over 3,000 children who are now being educated about sustainable farming techniques and plastic pollution.
Stephan Senghor, Project Manager of EcoZone, said: “We looked at the different aspects of the schools and how we could root sustainability into them. We had spaces that were filled up with garbage and now we have the community clean up those areas and turn them into productive land.
“We are now in our second year which is normally the most difficult one, but the great success is that the children been working on their garden by themselves and upkeeping those plants. I think that with the support of Extreme E they’ll go further and go on to be those actors of change that we want them to be. I’m really proud of what we have achieved so far and excited to continue this journey with the support of Extreme E.”
Catie Munnings, Genesys Andretti United Extreme E driver, said: “Just learning how to plant spring onions, in the local little garden at the school where they’re learning about farming, and then selling their produce at the market. They’ve got an actual local farmer teaching them how to do it as well.”
Alongside clearing areas of litter to be used for agriculture, Stephan has also introduced a new recycling technique – the EcoBrique – to tackle the growing plastic pollution crisis in Senegal. These are plastic bottles filled with dry and non-recyclable waste, mainly post-consumer plastics, which can be used as a building material.
The EcoBrique solution prevents littering, stores dry non-organic waste and reduces risk to marine life (80% of plastics found in the oceans come from land-based source), all while benefiting the community.
Over the past year the project has expanded to 74 schools in Niaga and 150 schools in total, and the impact has been tangible. Beyond Lac Rose and Niaga, the EcoZone Project has spread to Dakar through the ‘EcoBrique Challenge’, this campaign diverted over 40 tonnes of waste from landfill by engaging communities in ecological waste management practices and eco-construction.
Their work has contributed to building a primary school toilet, school benches as well as major renovation works at two schools and the Youth Centre. Solar lighting has been installed in the local market for those starting work in the early hours – as well as a community water pump, which negates the need to carry water long distances, and local farms.
Mamadou Dieye, farmer at Niaga One, added: “There are residents that tell us, ‘I’ve been coming here for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything as positive as this’. It has allowed us to have a clean environment where we no longer find rubbish or plastic. While plastic is the biggest pollution problem in Senegal, we are now seeing a solution.”
As part of its initial visit, Extreme E alongside series partner Allianz organised a beach clean that contributed significantly to the creation of more EcoBriques while improving ocean health and the quality of the beach habitat. Once again, our drivers, along with the local community and Empire des Enfants, worked hard to clear the beach of plastic pollution.
Christine GZ, Veloce Racing driver, commented: “It was really nice to be back on the beach of Senegal. It was amazing and super cool to see how we have an impact in our little way that we can.”
Professor Lucy Woodall, Marine Conservation Ecologist and Extreme E’s Ocean Expert, said: “Extreme E legacy programmes are a really important part of the race series and I’m particularly drawn to those that are community driven.
“They’re the experts about what they need and being able to create these programmes that allow communities to have the power to lead themselves is crucial. To be able to come and see what’s going on and to see that it is sustainable, and that people are excited about this is amazing.”
Another crucial aspect of Extreme E’s Senegal legacy project focusses on planting one million mangroves in association with to.org and local NGO Oceanium. The project will cover 60 hectares with the aim of reforesting mangroves to tackle erosion, storm damage, and provide habitats for wildlife all while educating the local populations and providing employment.
In Joal Fadiouth, the Championship went back to see the progress made over the past year. The team had been closely monitoring the mangroves’ growth and reported a successful growth rate of more than eighty percent. Continuing the project, a further two hectares of mangroves have been planted in the area during the visit.
Kevin Hansen, JBXE driver, commented: “It’s almost exactly a year later and to come back to the exact place where we were planting, we can really see the difference and how quickly these mangroves are growing and taking carbon out of the air. It’s super fascinating.”
Mangroves are one of the richest ecosystems in the world, providing essential goods and services and playing an important role in the life of coastal communities in countries like Senegal. In addition to being an excellent carbon store, they reduce flooding and erosion from storms, act as nurseries for fish and filter salt and pollutants from water.
Despite being vital to the planet and suited to growing in Senegal, a quarter of mangroves there have been lost since the 1980s. What’s more, mangroves store four times as much carbon as rainforests while covering a smaller area. This means one million mangroves has the potential to make a huge impact on the region, and Extreme E continues to support this important work.
To find out more and get involved click here.
There are ways to get involved and make a difference from closer to home. Extreme E’s Count Us In Challenge, invites and empowers fans to make a difference through taking practical steps on climate change and pledging to take action to reduce their carbon footprint in support of their favourite team.
Fan pledges for each team are added together in the Challenge leaderboard, with the winning team claiming the Extreme E Sustainability Award at the end of the series.
Extreme E now looks ahead to the final two rounds where the Championship will race in South America for the first time. The series will arrive in Antofagasta, Chile, for the Copper X Prix on September 24-25, before the Season 2 finale in Punte del Este, Uruguay, for the Energy X Prix on November 26-27.
To learn more about Extreme E, visit – www.Extreme-E.com
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