Waste and wasteland, a green oasis in Dakar’s bustling outskirts (New Agriculturist)

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Transforming waste and wasteland in Dakar

Once renowned for their beauty, the public gardens of Senegal’s capital, Dakar, have suffered decades of neglect. The 400 metre long HLM Patte d’Oie, like other supposedly ‘green spaces’ in the city was, until recently, an ugly combination of rubbish dump and car park. But in 2010, the site was chosen to house Dakar’s new municipal plant nursery. Construction and improvement of the site began in December 2010, quickly producing a green oasis in the city’s bustling outskirts. As part of the Sustainable Cities International (SCI) Network, Dakar is one of forty towns and cities around the world that are piloting social and technology innovations for more sustainable urban futures.

Table top gardens and a tree nursery

About one-third of the HLM Patte d’Oie area is dedicated to micro-gardening. Using groundnut and rice husks instead of soil, 145 table-top micro-gardens have been set up by a core team of 42 women. Taking care of the table gardens is a community activity; children, mothers and grandmothers cultivate over 30 species of plants, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, lettuces, carrots and cabbages. The gardening project gives these women a productive activity outside their homes, helping them improve their families’ diets, reduce money spent on food and earn income from sales. Every day they come to water their crops and sell; many others come to find out information, buy vegetables or to chat, the area becoming a valuable social hub.

The rest of the area is dedicated to the trees, shrubs and flowers of the municipal plant nursery, destined for the streets and parks of Dakar, to improve air quality, lower temperatures and help to control noise pollution. Hardy, climate-tolerant species comprise the nursery’s inventory. The nursery itself is managed by a team of technicians and support staff from the municipality, but a monitoring committee has also been put in place, including four women and two young people from the district. Nursery staff provide training in nursery techniques and micro-gardening to unemployed youth and women in the area.

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About Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.
This entry was posted in Agriculture, city gardening, Ecology - environment, environmental degradation, family gardens, Forestry, Gardening / Horticulture, land / land degradation, land management, pollution, small-scale farming, urban desertification, urban gardening, women/youth and desertification. Bookmark the permalink.