A volunteer is an employee ready to go to the four corners of the world to put his or her experience and skills at the service of others.
Sabrina Thétis: "These insects render an absolutely indispensable service to nature and to man."
“These insects render an absolutely indispensable service to nature and to man.”
Sabrina Thétis, a special "sustainable development" assistant at Veolia has for several months been observing the work of a PhD candidate preparing a thesis in connection with a joint project between Veolia and the French National Museum of Natural History. Based on studies of the biodiversity present on the corporate sites, a new project has been conceived: evaluating the presence of bumblebees.
Just how are they affected by their urban or rural environment ?
An observatory has been launched.
Why launch a "bumblebee observatory"?
These insects render an absolutely indispensable service to nature and to man: they are pollinators. Without them, many plant species could not reproduce. It so happens that today, between sincere concerns and a lack of accurate data, we do not know how to quantify the impact of human activities on the bumblebee populations.
By launching a study of this type, the idea is not "simply" to protect nature because it is beautiful, but because it provides genuine services.
How will this observatory function ?
Fabien Verfaillie, the person whose thesis is being supported by Veolia, alongside the National Museum of Natural History, and who originated this specific project, has designed an explanatory booklet telling how, after a short training session, you can recognize the various species of bumblebees. Having already worked on the data of the butterfly observatory, he determined that the error rate of the observations collected by volunteer novices was very low. He therefore organized regular training sessions on bumblebee identification.
With the accompaniment of the Groupement Associatif de l'Estuaire (GAE), the first tests were conducted around the Loire estuary and in the Ile-de-France area.
For the Paris region, we also rely on the staff of Veolia Eau. The project will then be extended to the whole of France and to all publics.
Being a close acquaintance of Fabien Verfaillie, you naturally became the sponsor of the project: how are you going to get involved?
Well, to my great surprise, I got in too deep! To tell the truth, I really don't like insects all that much, but I spent more and more time on the weekends, in the parks, looking at flower bushes and identifying the varieties of bumblebees! It's tremendous fun.
In addition to that, I will be accompanying Fabien and his association on further steps concerning this observatory. We are thinking about the educational aspect and the tools required to dispense training to primary school students, the idea being that awareness of biodiversity conversation from infancy is important.
Besides, the bumblebee observatory is also aimed at the local authorities and will propose sufficiently rigorous inventories to help them better manage their living heritage. If it turns out that some species are regressing, we could perhaps reverse the trend by reducing the pressure on the environment (limitation of releases into the environment, change in open space management methods, suspension of the use of pesticides, etc.).
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT SUPPORTED
> Groupe Associatif Estuaire (GAE)
Installation of a Bumblebee Observatory, and the tools necessary to enable the public to participate in this study, to assess the reality of the danger facing these pollinating insects.
Doudou Habibou-Halidou: "Participate in an initiative that fosters local dynamism."
“Participate in an initiative that fosters local dynamism by guaranteeing the quality of the drinking water as well as food security.”
Habibou Halidou Doudou, special assistant for the Environment at SEEN (Société d'Exploitation des Eaux du Niger), bears responsibility for several projects carried out by the company's sustainable development unit. A specialist in hydraulic questions, he supervises, alongside Jean-Hugues Hermant-Lagrange of the Veolia Foundation, the development of the Agrisud project in Niger: the installation of market gardens for twenty-four villages located in three districts.
This vast program, which has a significant "water" aspect, is aimed to establish the food security of the populations pursuing a local economic development approach.
How did you get in touch with Agrisud?
The representatives of Agrisud presented the project to SEEN/Veolia convinced that our activities were complementary. In the beginning, water was a necessary resource for implementing the project, but it wasn't considered for the consumption of the local population. This is because, in the villages where they decided to act, the wells that they had built or rehabilitated were almost exclusively intended to irrigate the market gardens.
However, when they found that the villagers used the water of these wells for their own consumption, they turned to us to seek our help in analyzing the quality of the water tapped. In our country, hydraulic stress reflects a population need for availabile water. Yet given the importance of waterborne diseases, Agrisud, with the help of the Veolia Foundation, raised the fundamental, if not countervailing issue, of water quality.
What sort of organization did you set up?
As soon as the guidelines were drawn up from Agrisud, a request was sent to the Veolia Foundation. The NGO needed financial support, as well as our expertise. With Jean-Hugues Hermant-Lagrange of the Foundation and Anne-Sophie Pierre, of Veolia, we formed a small steering committee to follow the project.
Given the needs identified, our support takes the form of financial sponsorship and sponsorship of skills. In addition to the traditional supervision of Foundation sponsor provided for a project (accompaniment of its progress and verification of the proper use of the funds), our mission, as we defined it with Agrisud, will consist in performing bacteriological and physiochemical analyses of the water from 41 wells and 86 basins, and confirming the availability of the water. All of this in 24 villages spread throughout the three districts of Dosso, Tahoua and Diffa. A major task, especially considering that the distances here are very long, the bacteriological analyses have to be performed on the spot and the others at Niamey. We calculated that the mission would require 30 days of work.
A volunteer from the Veolia Environment Foundation will come over to launch the operation and train a laboratory worker and myself, and we will then continue the work done throughout the area concerned.
What do you expect from this project?
First, it will give us an accurate knowledge of the quality and availability of the water in these wells. We can then propose solutions to improve its drinkability. Already, due to the simple fact of the construction of the new wells and the rehabilitation of the old ones, the villagers no longer drink the water of the ponds during the winter season, thereby reducing the number of persons suffering from waterborne diseases. This project will reach at least one thousand two hundred families!
At the strictly personal level, this project represents for me a golden opportunity to "catch up": in 2005, when my country was struck by a severe food crisis, I was a student in Morocco and - although with a number of friends, I had created a small student solidarity NGO - we were unable to take any significant action. I felt guilty: I am very worried about the living conditions of the rural population. Here, my modest contribution will be of some help to the most vulnerable families - those who live in very dry areas.
I can participate in an initiative that fosters local dynamism by guaranteeing the quality of the drinking water as well as food security.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT SUPPORTED
> Agrisud International
Drilling of wells and dredging sumps to promote food security through market gardening.