The Sand Diggers of Mali: The impacts of a rapidly growing city
North of Bamako, amid the treacherous currents of the River Niger, groups of men work beneath the hot sun to dredge sand from the river. They are gaunt and tired; they work in hazardous conditions for small amounts of money. Sand has become an increasingly valuable commodity here. The reason? There is a building boom in Mali at the moment as Malians in Bamako replace mud houses – which simply crumble during the rainy season – with concrete housing.
Jane followed the trail of the great River Niger and its sand, from the bottom of the river through the mud villages on its banks to the brave new world of Bamako, where concrete rules and city-slickers reside in new concrete housing.
Bamako is an example of a rapidly growing city and we are going to look at the problems and solutions associated with its growth.
What are the key features of Bamako?
What are the causes of a rapid urbanisation in Bamako?
What are the impacts of rapid urbanisation in Bamako?
What are the impacts of the sand diggers on the River Niger?
What is the connection between sand diggers and one of the fastest growing cities in the world?
Have a look at the image of a sand digger in this Geographical Magazine article. Now find some pictures of Bamako on the internet.
Can you make the connection?
Using the information give on the resource introduction page, discuss where Mali and Bamako are and why Jane Labous might have wanted to explore what is happening there. Use this PowerPoint presentation to help you.
Bamako is one the world's fastest growing cities. Your teacher will show you some information about growth in other cities across the globe- how does this compare to Bamako?
How has Bamako changed over time? Look at the maps and describe how Bamako has changed over the years.
Look at the comments. How is the growth of Bamako shown in these comments?
What are the issues associated with a rapidly growing city? Focus on the sand diggers of Mali and migration when you write your answer. Use the fact sheet to help you.
Now focus on the specific impacts of the massive need for sand that is used for concrete.
What are the issues around the growing demand for sand for concrete for building and other associated problems including access to water?
Have a look at these Sand Diggers videos and audio clips:
David Dimbleby’s sand diggers (three mins long)
David Dimbleby’s sand diggers (two mins long)
Jane Labous’s BBC Radio 4 programme (30mins long)
Now produce a table of issues: What are the problems associated with sand digging? Both environmentally and socially?
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