The Fly Collectors

The Fly Collectors


Together with Reaching the Last Mile, we are proud to announce the release of The Fly Collectors. The film highlights the history of river blindness (also known as onchocerciasis) control and elimination in West Africa and the dedication required to eliminate transmission of the disease — with a particular focus on a group of men in Senegal who volunteer to complete the painstakingly difficult job of catching disease-transmitting flies by hand. By collecting these samples, the fly collectors monitor the current state of river blindness transmission in their communities and serve as a critical force propelling Senegal closer to the milestone of eliminating transmission within its borders.

River blindness, also called onchocerciasis, is a neglected tropical disease (NTD) that is the fourth leading cause of preventable blindness globally. Globally, over 200 million people across 31 countries still require annual treatment for river blindness. Those living with the disease experience disrupted education and livelihoods, which affects their families and communities. Prior to the rollout of control and elimination programs, the risk of blindness due to the disease in West Africa affected up to 50 percent of adults. Entire communities abandoned their fertile river valleys to avoid the primary areas of transmission, increasing famine in affected regions.

Legendary Senegalese singer Baaba Maal provides the soundtrack for this lyrical celebration of the work that has brought his country within sight of a once unthinkable goal: eliminating river blindness.


  • Director: Jeff Arak
  • Producer: Yusuf Ahmed, the END Fund
  • Associate Producers: Ladan Osman, Joseph Penney, Sashi Leff, Joy Ruwodo
  • Edited by: Kurt Engfehr
  • Director of Photography: Liza Gipsova
  • Associate Editor: Alisa Selman
  • Executive Producer: Sam Mayer
  • Project Advisors: David Koh and Nicole Dimiceli


  • Duration: 25 minutes
  • Year: 2024
  • Original Languages: English, Wolof, French
  • Country of Filming: Senegal

Special Announcement

The film will premiere as part of the New York African Film Festival’s (NYAFF) shorts program “Beyond Time, Beyond Space” at Maysles Cinema on Sunday, May 19 at 3:30 p.m. ET.