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What a lettuce farm in Senegal reveals about climate-driven migration in Africa

Sadio Konte Dior, 20, on the farm where he works outside of Dakar on October 4. He came to Senegal from Mali. On these small farms just outside of the capital, men and women who have migrated regionally grow lettuce and other vegetables.
Ricci Shryock for NPR
Sadio Konte Dior, 20, on the farm where he works outside of Dakar on October 4. He came to Senegal from Mali. On these small farms just outside of the capital, men and women who have migrated regionally grow lettuce and other vegetables.

People from all over West Africa come to Rufisque in western Senegal to labor in the lettuce fields – planting seeds and harvesting vegetables.

Here, dragonflies hover over neat green rows of plants. Young field workers gather near a fig tree for their midday break as sprinklers water the fields.

The farmers on this field could no longer tend to crops in their own countries. Desertification, short or long rainy seasons, or salinization made it impossible.

They come from the Gambia, Burkina Faso and Mali and are part of the 80% of Africans who migrate internally, within the continent, for social or economic reasons.

They tell NPR about the push factors that made them leave their home countries, as well as the pull factors in Senegal.

Listen to our full report by clicking or tapping the play button above.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
Ayen Bior
Ayen Deng Bior is a producer at NPR's flagship evening news program, All Things Considered. She helps shape the sound of the daily shows by contributing story ideas, writing scripts and cutting tape. Her work at NPR has taken her to Warsaw, Poland, where she heard from refugees displaced by the war in Ukraine. She has spoken to people in Saint-Louis, Senegal, who are grappling with rising seas. Before NPR, Bior wore many hats at the Voice of America's English to Africa service where she worked in radio, television and digital. Bior began her career reporting on the revolution in Sudan, the developing state of affairs in South Sudan and the experiences of women behind the headlines in both countries. In her spare time, Bior loves to kayak, read and bird watch.
Sarah Handel