Founded in 1962 in a rural area 150 km from Dakar, in the Sereer territory, the Niakhar observatory is the oldest population observatory still in operation in Africa. Bearing the hallmarks of an original scientific and human adventure, it has been used since its creation in the health, demographic, social, economic and environmental monitoring of more than two generations. The results of Niakhar’s research, with indicators monitored in the long term, have informed and supported national and international health policies, notably in terms of malaria prevention.
By revisiting 50 years of research on the Niakhar site, this publication describes and analyses the development of this multi-disciplinary prospective observation platform. It illustrates the relevance of the long-term longitudinal approach in the different research fields, while opening the door to a reflection on the ethical issues specific to this collection instrument. Finally, it suggests changes in terms of methodology and governance for research.
This initial summary report on the Niakhar observatory will provide the Senegalese State and West African decision-makers, along with international institutions and scientists, with a concrete basis to optimise and mobilise these research platforms with a view to Sustainable Development Goals.