News / Africa

    Mauritanian Refugees Adopt Farming Project in Senegal

    Children and women inside garden at the Wendou Bosseabe refugee camp, Senegal, October 26, 2011.
    Children and women inside garden at the Wendou Bosseabe refugee camp, Senegal, October 26, 2011.
    Amanda Fortier

    In northern Senegal, an innovative farming project is helping Mauritanian refugees grow more food and better integrate into Senegalese society.

    It is late in the afternoon and the scorching midday sun is just starting to let up. Mariema Niang walks through her vegetable garden in Wendou Bosseabe, a Mauritanian refugee camp near the Senegal River basin, some 500 kilometers northeast of Dakar.

    Sahelian Valley

    Niang lists the different types of leafy green produce growing up strong and tall through the dry, brittle soil here in the Sahelian Valley. There are cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, okra and watermelon.

    Niang, 43, is the president of her gardening group. It is a team of some 100 women, made up of local Senegalese and Mauritanian refugees who fled to Senegal 22 years ago.

    In 1989 more than 65,000 black Mauritanians were forced from their homes by ethnic clashes with Mauritanian Moors.  One-third of those refugees eventually returned home.  But many chose to stay in Senegal.

    Niang says they can earn a living here through gardening, which helps longtime refugees integrate as naturalized Senegalese citizens.

    Niang says she grew more than enough vegetables for everyone after their first harvest, and they still had left over to sell at the market. The garden has also improved their diet, which is dominated by rice and fish. Niang says they have not yet calculated this year's profits, but she believes it is more than they have ever earned before.

    These 18 vegetable gardens in Wendou Bosseabe are part of an agricultural project developed by the French firm JTS Semences. The project includes a kit, with a selection of seeds, soil conditioners, fertilizers, and growing equipment, a manual and five-day training program.

    JTS Semences

    A JTS garden is capable of growing up to 700 kilograms of produce annually. Harvests are expected to feed a family of 10 with an extra 300 kilograms a year leftover. Sold for 50 cents a kilogram at a local market in Senegal, this can yield an income of around $250 a year - more than enough for Niang to send her five children to school.

    Niang says she is happy that she no longer needs to borrow money. At the same time, she says it has helped improved relations with the local Senegalese community because they have a common goal and this gives them a shared sense of pride in their gardening success.

    Moda Gueye is director of JTS Semences in Senegal. They have many garden projects in Senegal, but this is the first with refugees.

    In the beginning Gueye says the women had some doubts when they saw all the equipment and technique involved, but they learned quickly.

    After the first harvest, and some minor setbacks with insects, the gardens produced 200 kilograms of cucumbers and 300 kilograms of okra. This is at least four times more than what they were growing before.

    In the Fouta region, the soil is very hard and compact. It requires a lot of tilling before planting. Traditionally, the growing season here is very short - only three months - and the main crops are typically millet and peanuts.

    Advantages

    Gueye says the main advantages of the JTS gardens are the amount and variety of produce they can produce, and they work on a very small surface area - only 50 square meters.  They can also grow year-round and save on water by using a drip irrigation system and underground tarps.  Instead of 800 liters a day, the women only use 200.

    The overall cost of setting up one JTS garden, including the follow-up visits, is close to $750. Since the projects started in July, the U.N. refugee agency has funded 50 gardens here.

    Gueye says the project contributes to social and economic integration. If Mauritanian refugees are going to live in Senegal, there have many needs that must be taken care of, such as health and education. The UNHCR cannot take care of everything, but it can offer them activities, like the gardens, that will help them earn money.

    Gueye says it is not her company's intention to follow people for years because then they become too dependent. They are here to give them training and to help for a maximum of one year, but then they will back away and let them do it themselves.

    The U.N. refugee agency plans to fund at least another 300 gardens here next year to help women like Mariema Niang commercialize their produce and expand into bigger markets.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora