Eugène N'dione is the operations manager at CERAD, an non-governmental organization created in 1984 to provide water treatment and distribution throughout Senegal. While working in the villages around the coastal city of Saint-Louis, he realized that the water supply was not the only thing worrying residents of the region. Indeed, once they were equipped with wells for drinking water, they were in dire need of fuel.
One day, while traveling on the Senegal River, Eugène N'dione noticed something unusual. The Diama dam had been built to prevent sea water from contaminating the farmlands upstream with salt. But the dam also allowed cattails to proliferate. The invasive cattails now threaten to suffocate the diverse flora and fauna of the river, in addition to fostering increased mosquito breeding and clogging drainage ditches. But in Eugène’s eyes, these same cattails represented a potential solution to the region’s critical fuel shortage.