WasteAid’s climate resilience initiative in The Gambia launched at Abuko market in Banjul in July. The team, which includes WasteAid, Kanifing Municipal Council, Women’s Initiative the Gambia and funder EU GCCA+ was welcomed by Abuko’s alkalo and the Imam, as well as community members.
The speakers emphasised the value of this pilot project, which will see food waste collected from markets and turned into useful products like compost and biochar at the women’s gardens. Local residents also expressed their gratitude for the new waste management and recycling services this project will provide.
Ceris Turner-Bailes, WasteAid CEO said, “This is WasteAid’s first European Union funded project and we are thrilled that we are able to commence our EU relationship in Banjul by sharing waste reduction and recycling expertise with market traders and women gardeners. We know that the transfer of knowledge and potential for further income generation for the participants in this programme will add huge value to them and their community. Equally, I hope that this project will act as a catalyst for further investment in circular economy initiatives by both domestic and international structures.”
Mayor Talib Bensouda of Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) has committed publicly to supporting initiatives that resolve waste management issues in the city. The initiative also responds to one of the six priorities of KMC’s strategic plan for 2019-2022, being environmental and waste management, validated through extensive local consultations.
Ceris Turner-Bailes added, “This project also heralds a new partnership with Kanifing Municipal Council, which WasteAid sees as a long-term collaboration, admiring the commitment and energy demonstrated by KMC when it comes to waste reduction. It is an honour to be able to formally partner with KMC to deliver this project.
“I truly believe that this project will shine a light on the huge possibilities for organic waste and certainly we at WasteAid will be publicising to the maximum the great work being done here in The Gambia. Not only that, we continue to work tirelessly to attract further support to this vital work in The Gambia.”
Understanding the waste stream
The first step of the project is to understand what food waste is being generated at the markets in Kanifing Municipality. A trained team from KMC is currently undertaking a detailed waste composition analysis to determine the quantities of wet food waste, woody waste, and other materials such as plastic packaging that arising at the sites across the city.
Currently, all the waste generated at the markets is collected by KMC and disposed of at Bakoteh dumpsite. The dumpsite is in the centre of the city and poses an environmental health risk to local residents. Mayor Bensouda has delivered some significant improvements to the dumpsite, including a perimeter fence and a ban on open burning. This latest project with WasteAid will seek to divert biodegradable waste from the dumpsite and enable local women to recover value from it.
Wet food waste will be converted into compost, returning nutrients to the soil, improving soil structure and microbiology, and aiding water retention. Dry woody waste, such as groundnut shell and maize husk will either be used to make biochar, which again aids soil health, or to make charcoal briquettes which can be used as an alternative to firewood for cooking.
Isatou Ceesay, CEO of Women’s Initiative The Gambia said: “The side effects of using chemicals on our vegetable gardens are significant and linked to climate change, which impacts women and children the most. I call everybody’s participation toward this project so that we will achieve our goals and objectives together.”
Mayor Bensouda said previously: “Creating new pathways for sustainable resource management will accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. By diverting biodegradable waste from Bakoteh dumpsite and using it to enhance agricultural practices, this project will contribute to a green economy and provide inclusive opportunities, particularly for women.”
WasteAid’s project coordinator Ingrid Henrys is leading this activity in the Gambia. Ingrid has extensive experience in managing projects that support sustainable development, particularly in agriculture, soil health and conservation.