Balouo Salo – Description from Raoul Vecchio.
The project is called “Balouo Salo” that means in Mandinga languages “bridge for Life”. The name is donated by a old wise man of a common beneficiary.
The project consists of the construction of a bridge dam that aims to desalinate the valley of Tanaf, Senegal. Today, it is flooded with tides of Atlantic Ocean that destroy the cultivable fields and contaminate the aquifers, causing one of the highest rates of malnutrition and sub-Saharan disease, as well as determining poverty due to the lack of agricultural activity.
Inside the valley live about 80,000 people who currently live in this humanitarian emergency. This phenomenon of salinisation is called “saline intrusion”, and has been scientifically studied by the Italian architect Vecchio Raoul with numerous collaborations of professionals and specialists in the industry.
The dam bridge is built as humanitarian project with a real humanitarian cooperation system that allows the population to actively participate in the construction site. An intense training program in more than 20 villages and 10,000 people allows communities to take part in the works by acquiring knowledge, responsibility and identity in the project, but above all by learning its management and creating self-sufficiency.
The structure is made with a stratification of different natural materials found in adjacent areas with the aim of enhancing local resources and reducing material costs. The structure will be about 850 meters long and will be equipped with a drainage system that will allow the salt water to be discharged out of the valley, allowing a progressive washing and continuous decontamination of the soil and ground, thus allowing the return of the ‘ agriculture and improving the quality of water of the wells. The the dam will have a clay core that aims to filter the salt.
The structure, also, has an essential role in infrastructure system because 10 villages are currently isolated from lack of infrastructure, and this project connect them with the other bank of the valley, reducing distances from hospitals and markets to more than 15km.
Two monument are also built on the dam body: Kora Salo and Monument of Cooperation. The first is a tribute to the Griot, a cultural symbol of the beneficiary area who spread the history of Africa with the Kora musical instrument; the second is a crude cement cast on which all the people who have participated in the project can print their footprints, which will always be imprinted on the bridge.
This project represents a model of cooperation and has received the “Lorenzin Prize for the Valorization of Water Resources” and the “International Solidarity Federico II Award”.