Dakar, Senegal 2019

Jacopo Villani, 14

The first thing one notices upon arriving in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, is the overwhelming stench of pollution and smog. A taxi ride from the airport is enough to make you tear up, and the constant smell of rotting sewage is ubiquitous. There are nearly no regulations regarding emissions, and those which are in place are regularly broken. On top of this environmental mismanagement, the cars driven are sub-par and polluting. Foreign corporations sell junk vehicles at a fraction of their original price, with no care whatsoever for the people using them. On top of this, the fuel used to power these scraps of metal is effectively the waste product of oil refinement. The diesel standards in Senegal allow up to 5,000 sulfur parts per million, compared to Europe’s  10 parts per million. The oil industry is effectively poisoning millions of Senegalese people.

For a long time, people living in third-world countries have faced premature deaths because of preventable diseases like Malaria AIDS, and  Diarrhoeal diseases. But now, as easy access to cheap and effective medicine becomes commonplace, experts fear that respiratory illnesses will emerge as leading causes of death in the cities of the global south.