Floodwater used to grow herbs in Dakar (Senegal)

Photo credit: TRUST

Emilie Faye stands near a floodwater retention basin in Pikine, a suburb of the Senegalese capital Dakar. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

Dakar women grow herb business from floodwater

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Author: Kathryn M. Werntz

VIDEO: http://youtu.be/uoGxrDeyT_g

Though the coastal cities of Senegal are situated on the fierce Atlantic Ocean, it is floods from heavy rains they struggle with, rather than rising tides.

Inondation à Pikine -  http://www.noorinfo.com/photo/art/default/4613661-6906052.jpg?v=1344867640
Inondation à Pikine – http://www.noorinfo.com/photo/art/default/4613661-6906052.jpg?v=1344867640

A common solution is to pump floodwaters into the ocean. But one innovative project is trying to capture the water instead, for use in gardening during water-short periods of the year.

Pikine, les Parcelles assainies et Guédiawaye, les trois villes de la banlieue dakaroise, bénéficieront, très prochainement, d’un programme spécial de lutte contre la pauvreté. - http://www.seneweb.com/news/artimages/news/pikine.jpg
Pikine, les Parcelles assainies et Guédiawaye, les trois villes de la banlieue dakaroise, bénéficieront, très prochainement, d’un programme spécial de lutte contre la pauvreté. – http://www.seneweb.com/news/artimages/news/pikine.jpg

In Pikine, a suburb of Senegal’s capital Dakar, the “Live with Water” project captures floodwater in large sandy basins, around which cash crop gardens of mint and basil provide an income for local residents.

Using the basins, floods that once wiped out houses, strained the local economy and heightened the risk of disease have been converted into a new stock of fresh water for a West African community that is dusty and dry much of the year.

“Before, one had to accept that houses here flood. But this project opened our eyes to see there is a solution,” said Emilie Faye, a local leader who has been instrumental in the project.

Faye points to the seat of her couch, indicating the flood level in years past. The wall and ceiling of her home are discoloured and peeling due to secondary damage from humidity.

CATCHING RAINWATER

The redirected floodwaters serve a multitude of purposes. The surface drainage system leads water into an underground canal which empties into a natural filtration system. Water then flows through a series of basins, creating a reservoir and a green space in the middle of a crowded, dusty suburb.

The basins, a burgeoning ecosystem of their own, are now populated with medicinal plants, fish and herons.

 

Read the full article: TRUST

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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