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The "Voices of the River, Way of Peace" initiative aims to organize a strategic and creative reflection on water-related issues between local populations, leaders of the Organization for the Development of the Senegal River (OMVS), personalities and experts in water management, focused on listening to local populations and the creation of local jobs for the strengthening of peace in the basin.


The artist and international personality Baaba Maal is committed, as Patron of the project and unifying personality of the Senegal River, to invite dialogue with the local populations of the Fouta region.


The project has the particularity of mixing culture and development by associating artists in the field of music, cinema, theater and photography.


A music album bearing the name of the initiative and calling for commitment to water and peace between peoples was produced with internationally renowned artists from the four countries bordering the Senegal River. The artists Baaba Maal, Daara J Family, Sékou Kouyaté (Guinea), Noura Mint Seymali (Mauritania), and Noumoucounda (Senegal) also performed at FASO as part of this album. Concerts by Sona Jobarteh (Gambia), Daby Touré (Mauritania) and young artists and traditional griots also contributed to the Festival's programming.

Cultural works have mobilized young people and made it possible to transmit their messages.


The project has organized exchanges on the road from the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, to the River Blues Festival in Podor in December 2021, to the Festival à Sahel Ouvert in Mboumba in February 2022.


A project competition for young people in the basin also made it possible to create promising initiatives for the communities, which were promoted at the Forum with all the results of the reflection.

To strengthen peace in the basin, the project designs the establishment of a Blue Fund to support local entrepreneurship and community initiatives (Note from the Fund)


The "Voices of the River, Way of Peace" project led by the OMVS is implemented by a coalition of partners in the fields of diplomacy and water governance, culture, citizen foresight, including the Geneva Water Hub, Globe, IPAR, Milk Music, Naan-K and Bois Sacré, Pôle Eau Dakar, the International Secretariat for Water, the International Network of Basin Organizations, Waterpreneurs.


These meetings contributed to the success of the 9th World Water Forum, bringing the theme of peace and cooperation to the international agenda.


The project is supported by the Swiss Development Cooperation, the Delegation of the European Union in Dakar as well as a set of sponsors.

Concept: About



The artist Baaba Maal has become a sponsor of the project Voices of the River: Pathways to Peace.
Thanks to his commitment as an artist and citizen against the process of soil degradation, he was acclaimed by the United Nations and appointed UN ambassador against desertification.

He notably participated in the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 and in the Peace Talks at the Palais des Nations in Geneva in 2021 (video below).
Great voice of Africa, Baaba Maal is known for his international musical career.

He created his Naan-K foundation, and organizes the festival "Les Blues du Fleuve" in Podor, Senegal.

Baaba Maal Parrain
Video Baaba Maal

As a vector of development and peace, culture has an important role to play in the Sahel region, which is experiencing growing destabilization. Water is a major issue in this context but is however not sufficiently recognized as such. This even though the explosion of tensions between communities around access to water and the natural resources to which it gives life is a reality. In this context, a call by the culture to explore the roots and the intimate link that connects people to water serves the purpose of promoting a culture for peace and development and raising awareness of the issues felt by local populations.

With this in mind, the Geneva Water Hub has joined forces with the Festival à Sahel Ouvert, which was held in Mboumba on the banks of the Senegal River from February 14 to 16, 2020, in order to collaborate around Art for water and peace through cultural activities to raise awareness and promote commitment to the cause of water.  

This experience was captured in the film “  Water and peace at the heart of Festival A Sahel Ouvert  which sheds local, philosophical and cultural light on water issues in the Sahel.

This experience has been renewed and presented as part of the 6th Festival A Sahel Ouvert and the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar (Diamniadio)

from February 25 to March 26, 2022.

Concept: Team Members
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