Madjigène’s story : How the Gorée Island Compost Project inspired her

Anik Fortin just finished a six-month placement in Dakar. As part of our SCI CIDA Internship Program, Anik’s work focused on urban agriculture. Thank you for a lovely story,  Anik!

Read more about our Goree Island Composting Project here.

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Madjigène is a 34-year-old woman who grew up on Goree Island. Her family has been established in Goree for three generations and has two restaurants on the island. Madjigène has several brothers and a sister living in Europe and America, but she herself never considered going to live abroad, or even leave the island.

Madjigène is married and has a six-year-old boy. She lives in the family house and makes a little money by selling necklaces to tourists. Unlike many jewelry vendors of the island, she refuses to harass the visitors to make her sales!

Madjigène is an independent woman, hard-working, well-known and respected by her community. She has an entrepreneurial spirit with vision and is not afraid to take initiatives and mobilize her energies to push forward her projects.


Madjigène is one of two women who have been hired by the Gorée municipality in May 2012. Her task is to promote the composting project, raise awareness about waste sorting, dealing with compost production tasks and ultimately to micro gardening.

In March 2012, the project team had proposed to the Gorée municipality to hire two women to perform these tasks. Once the decision was official, all the families of the island were visited to announced the two jobs openings. Women who demonstrated an interest were invited to a briefing / training session. Madjigène attended this session mainly because the micro-gardening component of the project interested her.

Madjigène had in mind a long-term project – she wished to use an area on the roof of her house for micro-gardening. Her goal is to have a production consistent enough to meet the needs of family restaurants. Madjigène admits to being not particularly interested in the compost production, but understands that the purpose of this project will help her realize her own gardening project.

Madjigène quickly distinguishes herself from other candidates for the job opening because of her communications skills, and the respect she imposed and her long-term vision of the project. Madjigène has quickly taken concrete initiatives for the project advancement, taking seriously the tasks asked of her, and use her knowledge of her environment and community to act as efficiently as possible. Her new job at Gorée municipality allows her to have steady revenue, but is not her primary motivation.  Her interest is the success of the project, which explains her proactive attitude.

It was quickly clear to me that Madjigène had all the skills to become the leader of the project and that the survival of the project – once Canadian funding expires – could go through her. So, I quickly worked closely with her, giving her responsibilities to instruct families on waste shortage, for example. Before, the project supervisor assumed this task, but Madjigène had all the knowledge needed for this task.

In addition, Madjigène is very eager to begin her micro-gardening. So I introduced her to a micro-gardening trainer and I took her to the municipal nursery where she made contacts and exchanges ideas with women doing micro-gardening at the nursery. This visit was a real success; Madjigène was very inspired by her visit and discussions. During her visit, Madjigène developed a very original micro-enterprise idea – to commission the manufacture of micro-gardening tables.

I think the project is opening a world of possibilities for Madjigène. It’s giving her the opportunity to fully use her potentials and realize personal projects by giving her a new financial resource, but also by creating a network of people that have the knowledge to support her in the process.


About sustainablecitiesnetwork

Sustainable Cities International is a registered not-for-profit organization based in Vancouver, Canada. Operating since 1993, the mission of Sustainable Cities is to catalyze action on urban sustainability with cities around the world. We work by connecting and mobilizing people through the process of co-creating. We facilitate a thriving, international network of cities that act as urban laboratories: adopting, testing and improving on innovations. Ideas are accelerated through sharing of experience and cities are making transformational change a reality
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