Ndar - Senegal


The neighbourhood of Guet Ndar on the Langue de Barbarie is located in the Senegalese city of Saint-Louis (Ndar in the Senegalese official language of Wolof). Guet Ndar is a neighbourhood of fishermen and their families, who are of Lebou ancestry and have been inhabiting the area since the 1600's. The area sits on less than one square kilometre of land which is sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Senegal River to the east. It is estimated that more than 30,000 people live here. Guet Ndar is one of the most densely populated urban areas in all of Africa and some say the world. Many people come from outside of Saint-Louis to live and or work in the neighbourhood, which places further strain on an already overcrowded community.


The challenge of overpopulation in Guet Ndar is augmented by severe deficiencies in infrastructure, including water drainage, insufficient electrical connections, and poor road conditions. Lack of waste management means most rubbish ends up in the river and the ocean along with human and animal waste. Residents are faced with coastal erosion that has led to the destruction of hundreds of homes and other buildings directly adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean. As one resident of Guet Ndar said, "the sea comes to rest and we have put many things in its ways but they won't stop it."


Fishermen are faced with overfishing, commercial trawlers, and the day-to-day dangers of being on the ocean. With 70 percent of the country’s protein consumption coming from fish, Senegal is highly dependant on its fishing industry for protein. In 2003, the municipality of Saint-Louis made a breach in the Langue de Barbarie as a measure against flooding. The breach has quickly grown in size and has become a source of danger for fishermen who claim more than 375 deaths have been caused by it.


As the beach narrows due to coastal erosion, Guet Ndar is shrinking. Its population, dependent on its access to the Atlantic Ocean and tied to the land, has no space left to grow. Since both the habitat and industry are under grave threat, the current situation may be a sign of an end of an era for this fishing community.


With help from the Canada Council for the Arts

A man runs along a section of beach in Goxumbacc, a neighbourhood on the northern end of the Langue de Barbarie, just south of the Mauritanian border and less than two kilometres north of Guet Ndar, during equinox tides that caused damage to coastal infrastructure.

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A young girl carries glasses used for ataya (tea) out from a house damaged by coastal erosion.

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Fishermen push a pirogue (artisanal fishing boat) towards the ocean one morning in Guet Ndar. Small fishing boats are often launched in the early hours of the day and return with the day's catch before sunset.

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A boy maneuvers a homemade toy pirogue on the banks of the Senegal River.

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Two men who work at the fish market in Guet Ndar. 

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A man named Hassan cleans a fish near the "quai de pêche" or fishing wharf. Behind him is the massive fishermen's cemetary which is very important to the community on the Langue de Barbarie.

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Amadou Mba cleans fish of their scales at the "quai de pêche" or fishing wharf.

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Men of all ages gather near the fish market, as the fishermen get ready for a demonstration demanding that the government fix issues that plague their livelihoods.

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Husband and wife Malik and Fatou pose for the camera at the "quai de pêche" or fishing wharf.

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A boy looks through the space between a wall and the door to a home.

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A lamb walks by a wall with graffiti related to the Islamic holiday of Ramadan.

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A young boy uses an empty canister as a drum on a side street in Santhiaba just north of Guet Ndar.

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A woman poses with items on her head as she holds a bowl made of a kalabash in front of her home on Avenue Dodds.

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A fish-case-carrier named Oumar stands in a little restaurant that serves breakfast sandwiches and coffee next to the fish market.

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In the market at the north end of Guet Ndar a man welds a metal device commonly used with a net to scoop fish.

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Bathie Diouf, a fisherman and a vender of fish pictured next to trucks at the fish market.

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Kader Gueye, left, and Mame Sene, and their male friends and family on the rooftop of a home.

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A man walks by a typically busy street corner.

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Oumar from Gambia, pictured next to the fish market came to Saint-Louis to work on the pirogues. He goes to sea at night and has a few hours of sleep during the day.

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A man who works in the fish industry poses with a recently arrived pirogue (artisanal fishing boat) on the banks of the Senegal River.

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People gather for the arrival of pirogues along the Senegal River one morning.

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Children on makeshift rafts on the Senegal seen from the Moustaph Malick Gaye bridge that links Saint-Louis island to the Langue de Barbarie.

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Mbaye Ndiaye waits for the arrival of pirogues.

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Two men who work in the fish industry rest as the sun sets on the beach next to the "quai de pêche"or fishing wharf.

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Mustapha Diallo poses with a piece of wood resembling a gun on the beach as a child runs by and another stands watching.

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A man stands looking out towards the Senegal River among numerous pirogues. 

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Imbrahim Mbaye, a young fisherman pictured after cleaning himself in the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the day.

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Fishermen and a young boy stand on the beach next to the heavily damaged infrastructure at the "quai de pêche" or fishing wharf after the men helped launch a pirogue onto the Atlantic Ocean.

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