Nouakchott - Where Are They Gone?


Mauritania is a country drying up. Not that there was anytime plenty of water here, but due to climate change the country is suffering since a couple of years immensely from water shortage. Especially in the capital, where sere trees lined all the unpaved roads this was visible everywhere. I was on my way down to the fish market and the hot dry wind blew the Sahara sand into my face. Nevertheless I decided to walk, as the strong smell of fish at 45°C outside temperature told me, that I was not too far away. Here in Nouakchott the water shortage made farming virtually impossible and therefore the city turns more than ever to the sea to feed its people. But same as with the water shortage, for which the industrial nations with their air pollution are responsible, living from the sea is getting more and more difficult due the greed of the West. Once the coast of Mauritania was famous for the wealth of fish and due to the limited possibilities of the fishermen, who are only fishing with small wooden boats, the fish stock was ever increasing. However this attracts the huge trawlers from Europe and even China, which have nearly emptied the fish resources from Mauritania without paying one single cent to the Mauritanian people. Moussa, an old fishermen with his proud violet galabia was asking the sky: “Where are they gone?“. When I was watching the goings-on at the fish market, where the fishermen brought in their half-empty nets and the hungry crowds where fighting over the catch, I thought about the thousands of people here trying to go to Europe, as so called „economical refugees“. As long as we bother to treat the weaker nations as partners, as long will these nations flood us with waves of refugees. We should once again think about our imperialistic attitudes and start to repair the huge damages our older generations have caused by generating wealth on the cost of the weaker. Moussa joined me in the shadow of an old wooden boat. He told me that all his sons have left in search for a better life. He has never heart anything again from them and he turned his scarred face again to the sky: „Where are they gone?“