The struggle against the appropriation of land and forced evictions in the last remaining ‘green lung’ of the Senegalese capital Dakar has been led by the association of market gardeners in the Patte d’Oie district. The initiative aims to prevent 399 new homes being built in the area, and the associated pollution, ecological destruction and loss of agricultural land and unemployment for thousands of people, especially youth and women.
Increasingly deprived of their livelihood, market gardeners in the Niayes zone of Patte d’Oie district formed an association in 2005 to create a legal framework with which to defend their common interests. From the outset, the association has pursued all administrative and municipal avenues, along with action-research and partnerships, advocacy by leading environmental defenders, public opinion formers, politicians, and religious leaders.
In 2018 the association mobilised its membership following the arrest and incarceration of some of its market gardeners. This triggered an awareness among market gardeners of the need for unity and solidarity, and the struggle has borne fruit with the release of all detainees. So far the administrative and judicial fight has been well managed by the association and has helped to ward off land and estate speculators. And while vigilance is still important, it is encouraging that the general public have joined the market gardeners to protect what is the last ‘green lung’ of Dakar
“The gardeners are conducting an admirable struggle to protect their right to agriculture and garden on the periphery of the city. They are confronting the construction lobby, which is not easy when there is a growing demand for housing.”
– Vivek Monteiro
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