“Sahara Info” : Family gardens in refugee camps of Algeria (Translation)



Workshop on Gardening

This workshop was created in the autumn of 2005 following the wishes and the initiative of the team. Taleb Brahim El Khalil, an engineer who studied agronomy in Syria, agreed to be responsible for the teaching of gardening. Since more than 10 years he is working at the Ministry of Agronomy of the Saharawis.

Originally, Zeïn was dreaming that this could be the start of vegetable production and that with the sales of vegetables the Youth Center of the UJSario in Smara could be financed. In one of the corners of the garden area in the Wilaya (village) an experimental garden would be created within the framework of a bigger garden project of Spain. This first big project was set up on sand. Theoretical education in the school happened quite regularly, but the practical outcome was limited to some seeds or seedlings, grown in plastic bottles.

Today, a new development in gardening occurs, which meets the possibilities of education in the Youth Center. The Ministry of Agriculture of the RASD tries since two years to develop small family gardens in the camps. Objective : production of vegetables by individual families. 300 gardens in each Wilaya are planned. And the responsible person of the Ministry is Taleb !

Taleb is strongly convinced that auto-sufficiency of the families can be realized with small family gardens. Big gardens need to many investments and are depending upon special knowledge, which is not present among the Saharawis. In the middle of February, Taleb wants to start with the construction of small gardens for the women following the gardening course. Practical education will then follow in those gardens.

taleb visited with me some family gardens alreeady existing in te Wilaya of Smara : that was an impressive tour ! There are small gardens, also the one of Taleb’s family, in which up to 15 different species of vegetables are growing, also mint and some flowers. I have seen experiments with small greenhouses, often only plastic bottles put over a single plant. Taleb is convinced that a family can cover all its needs for vegetables with such a small garden. However, there is still a need to clarify some things because, as Taleb said, many Saharawi women still believe that such “manual” activities – and dirty hands – are a man’s business.

Moreover, more water is needed, because today the families use the drinking water they get for watering their garden. The Ministry of Agriculture should find a solution for this problem !

Elisabeth BÄSCHLIN


REMARK (Willem)

The successful “Family Garden Project” described above is the one set up by UNICEF ALGERIA on which I posted already some reports before (see the archive of this blog).

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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