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Stories from the Field

A Community Garden Creates Change in Senegal

By Kelsey Reid on July 27, 2022

At the mouth of the Casamance River in Senegal sits the city of Ziguinchor. Jiaka, a resident of Ziguinchor and a community health worker at the Belfort Health Clinic, has cultivated an extraordinary garden to benefit her community. 

During a trip to a nearby clinic to visit a fellow health worker, Jiaka noticed that the clinic’s previously empty green space was now full of leafy greens, onions, peppers and more. Jiaka was intrigued and asked her friends about the garden. She learned that the garden was cultivated as part of the Leveraging Agriculture to Unite Communities and Hospitals (LAUNCH) project, implemented in partnership with Development in Gardening (DIG) and Rise Against Hunger. Her friend explained that the food grown served as a source of food for busy healthcare professionals and was harvested for patient meals during the busy season. Patients were also provided the opportunity to enroll in the agricultural training program to learn regenerative agricultural practices and take their learnings home to successfully grow their own gardens.

Hearing how successful and helpful this program had been for the community, Jiaka was determined to bring the same project to her own community. With the support of Rise Against Hunger, DIG and Jaika provided 15 Belfort Health Clinic workers with the necessary resources to begin educating themselves further about agriculture and growing the garden. Jiaka went to work converting the small clinic lawn into a garden and recruited her coworkers as the first training group. While some were skeptical about the potential of the program, they saw value in joining the clinic’s doctors and nurses in a community activity.

Together, they learned how to prepare fresh garden beds in tires and create sunken beds. They made sure that beds could survive the unique climate of Ziguinchor. “The group loved learning about new cultivation and compositing techniques. Because many people don’t have good land at home, it is interesting for them to see that they can use local materials to improve their land and build a garden,” said Anias, the DIG facilitator. 

Now, a year in, Jaika and the group have grown over 30 different varieties of vegetables. They’ve been able to save 273,300 CFA ($484 USD) in a group savings account that will be distributed at the end of the year and restarted in the new year. The group is excited to keep their garden growing and flourishing. Jaika is incredibly proud of the group’s progress, saying, “The special thing about our group is that because they see their savings growing, they are so motivated to keep cultivating their garden.” 

Together, the group has built a healthy and sustainable future for their community — and Jaika’s determination to support her community helped make this possible. You can donate to support communities around the world, like Jaika’s, as they address their food security needs through sustainable agriculture projects, including the LAUNCH project.