Haïdar El Ali, a member of the Slow Fish and Terra Madre network, has been appointed as the new Minister of Ecology in Senegal
On April 3, 2012, Haïdar El Ali was named as the new Minister of Ecology and the Protection of Nature following the election of Macky Sall as President of Senegal. Born in Louga to a family of Lebanese origin, Haïdar’s love of the sea led him to train as a professional diver, but he soon became an environmental activist.
Le Monde has named him one of the hundred most active ecologists in the world, and he is the director of Océanium, a Dakar-based environmental protection association, and president of the Federation of Green Parties in West Africa.
He has been responsible for Senegal’s first marine protected areas, many environmental education activities for the local people, an important project to restore the mangroves (in the Casamance region alone, 30 million have been reintroduced) and a clean-up operation during which his group of divers recovered over 3,000 nets abandoned in the sea.
Haïdar El Ali has been collaborating for some time with the Slow Food and Terra Madre network as an expert on fishing in Senegal. The current minister attended the most recent edition of the Slow Fish event, organized every two years in Genoa by Slow Food, speaking at a Water Workshop on fishing in Africa. Additionally, with the Océanium association, he started the community garden in Terou Baye Sogui, on a bay near Dakar, one of the Thousand Gardens in Africa. The food garden gives the local fishers, struggling with drastic falls in fish stocks, an alternative economic activity.
In a country where environmental preservation has long been neglected, Haïdar’s nomination to the government is a real sign of hope.