Gardening the Sahel - communal women run fruit & vegetable gardens in Senegal

Signal of change / Gardening the Sahel - communal women run fruit & vegetable gardens in Senegal

By James Goodman / 30 Sep 2016

"Can multiplying small-scale “re-greening” in the form of women-run communal fruit and vegetable gardens make a difference for local populations in the Sahel?

The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative (GGW) is a Pan-African project consisting of a contiguous series of landscape-scale interventions designed to cross the African continent with the goal of improving environmental and human well-being in the Sahel.  For more on the Great Green wall see this video.

As a result of the GGW activities in Senegal, 11 women-run communal gardens have sprouted up across the GGW path. Each 5-7 hectare garden is established in proximity of a village with access to a permanent water supply.  The gardens are run by women’s associations with 100-300 members/garden. They also benefit from permanent technical support from GGW specialists in horticulture.

The aim of the gardens is to facilitate access to seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables for populations that, up until now, have been cut off from fresh food distribution networks due to geographic isolation. The vegetables and fruits are sold at considerably lower-than-market prices to the garden members; the excess produce is sold for profit at local markets. The resulting income earned is reinvested in a common fund that functions according to the model of the West African tontines. This system of revolving micro-credit offers women the possibility to save and invest money in a region where they typically have extremely limited access to financial capital.  The gardens were all created according to the GGW prototype, however each one has undergone site-specific adaptations that have enhanced local adoption and efficiency."

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What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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