L´or blanc du Lac Rose
„It is hard work, much too hard. If I could, I would stop tomorrow, but I have a family to feed“, says Mame Thierno Fael, one of many salt miners on Lake Retba in Senegal. The small lake is 30 kilometers outside of Dakar. Due to its peculiar color, it is also called Lac Rose. It is so strongly saturated with salt that the mineral sinks to the bottom of the lake. Anyone has the right to harvest this salt because the lake is common property. In order to not upset the delicate ecological balance, the salt has to be obtained by hand. The salt mine workers with spades, baskets and boats to obtain the valuable mineral from the water. They work 6 to 8 hours daily to fill one boat, which brings them the rough equivalent of 30 USD. Once the salt loaded boats have landed, women from the neighbouring villages carry the freight up the shore in plastic buckets. The salt is then piled up to form small mountains. This hard manual work at a lake with a salt-saturation of about 40% threatens the worker´s health. The salt attacks their skin; it dehydrates their bodies and dessicates the mucuous membrane. It is the intermediate trade that gains substantially from the precious salt from the lake: the best quality is sold to gourmets all over the world at 36 USD per kilo.