Remembering La dame du terrain - Madame Oumoulkhairy Ndiaye


A passionate worker, resolute advocate for the development of small-scale fisheries, especially for the poorest and marginalized groups wherever she traveled. Indeed, Madame Oumoulkhairy Ndiaye was a woman of strong character who had captured the hearts of the people she worked with and the countless fishing communities she had helped. She played a pivotal role in small-scale fisheries research and development, developing innovative solutions and disseminating good practices.

A key characteristic of Ms Ndiaye was her relentless efforts for the betterment of women in fisheries, exemplified by her dedicated contribution to the deliberations of the gender working group that helped some 20 coastal states from Mauritania to Angola. She strongly believed that the development of Africa would not be realized without the full involvement of women. This supported her relentless engagement to continue the research in clean technologies, with more innovations and creativity in order to improve the autonomy of women. She helped contribute to the fight against poverty for the social, economic and environmental development of Africa. 

Ms Ndiaye is mostly associated with two technologies that she strongly promoted, namely the fish drying racks initiated in 2004 in Mvugo, Burundi and the FAO-Thiaroye fish processing technique (FTT) designed in 2009. The FTT is a technique drawn from the collaborative efforts research approach between FAO and the National Training Centre for Fish and Aquaculture Technicians (CNFTPA) in Senegal where Ms Ndiaye had been teaching fish technology since 1988. To date, the FTT has been introduced and implemented in 16 countries in Africa and in Asia and the Pacific. The technique improves yield and fish safety that meet international standards, while fostering many social, economic and environmental benefits.

Ms Ndiaye had been at the forefront of the implementation of tens of projects in Africa, a couple of which (Chad, Angola) won the E. Saouma Award while others were recognized for spurring the best practices in fish utilization and safe fish food production, women empowerment and decent working conditions. Her vision for a zero loss in fisheries in Africa is very well illustrated by the FTT kiln in a sentence she repeatedly hammered "rien ne se perd, tout est utilisé ”, meaning "no waste, all is utilized"

“I lost one of my finest consultants, a selfless committed professional for unquestionable deliverables, generous in sharing her knowledge, a very good communicator and a woman of an indisputably high sense of ethical principles.” - Yvette Diei Ouadi, Fishery Officer.

Certainly, Ms Ndiaye’s death on 10 May is an immense loss for the post-harvest fisheries programme in Africa where she had served for several decades and for other regions that experienced the successful introduction of the FTT. She was the undisputed Guru of the FTT, and thus one cannot complete a true story of the technique without mentioning her name. 

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