The Soumbédioune Fish Market in Gueule Tapee – Fass – Colobane has been a critical point around which the economy of this small coastal subset of Dakar has revolved for generations. Colorful boats line the shore where fishermen bring in assorted hauls, adjacent to the marketplace where the fish are chopped and sold – the domain of the community’s women.
The female fish vendors are an integral part of the landscape of the traditional marketplace, but aging infrastructure, and a lack of proper hygiene and facilities have become obstacles to the success of these entrepreneurs.
Worsening sanitation, extreme heat without cold storage or shade, and no access to basic services limit the possibilities for income, as well as deter customers from the marketplace. For the women relying on the sale of fish, these factors have had a big impact on revenues. Besides poor working and selling conditions being unconducive to business, the trade itself is becoming more difficult. Commercial overfishing and climate change have depleted West Africa’s waters of a valuable resource, especially for those depending on the fishing industry to survive.
With the support of the commune, UNCDF’s IncluCity program launched a pilot project here in November, 2022, to renovate the market. IncluCity strives to alleviate poverty and vulnerabilities for women and marginalized populations in cities, through inclusive urban financing and capacity building. The initiative will provide a higher quality working environment for the women, as well as increase incomes and attract more customers. Construction on a new roof and stalls, as well as bathroom, rest, and childcare facilities is nearly complete, and expected to be ready for use this summer.
“Our locality consists of three main districts including Gueule Tapee where the bay of Soumbédioune is located. The latter concentrates important population living mainly from fishing activities – The impact of which is reflected in the rates of sales, processing and consumption of fish products. From vendors, fish scale removers, fisherman… to peanut sellers, the bay of Soumbedioune gathers a wide range of actors and is a truly evenly rotating economy. Beyond modernizing the market, the IncluCity Senegal project also answers four major issues: attractiveness, functionality, hygiene and safety,” Abdoulaye Sakho, Head of the Decentralised Cooperation Unit of Gueule Tapee – Fass – Colobane Municipality, explained.
This IncluCity pilot is also the flagship project of the municipality’s Fass Emergent program. Dr Samba Balde, Secretary General of Gueule Tapee – Fass – Colobane Municipality, said of the project, “This newly renovated fish market of Soumbedioune is a real welcome relief, not only to the local Senegalese population, but for all municipality institutions as well. As a reminder, this renovation activity is supportive of the Fass Emergent project, relating to the best practices in operationalizing the demographic dividend. In this regard, it opened the way to the development of public-private partnership approaches in which technical and financial partners, including UNCDF, were mobilized to support the economic empowerment of women through the IncluCity Senegal project.”
A key aspect of the IncluCity pilot is to ensure consultation with local stakeholders, especially women and marginalized groups, and build the capacity of the municipality for more inclusive planning and growth. The female vendors from Soumbédioune Market have had key input in the design and implementation of the development, and have been given oversight of the market managing committee over the long term.
Mr. Balde continued, “The particularity of IncluCity Senegal lies in its contribution to the goals of sustainable human development, and more importantly its participatory and inclusive approach involving City Hall, technical partners and beneficiaries. We welcome the work carried out by UNCDF in this respect in terms of support, technical and financial assistance and initiatives undertaken vis-à-vis the recipient populations, to foster their involvement in this project’s implementation.”
Maimouna Ndiaye, spokesperson for the women of the Soumbedioune fish market, voiced on behalf of the beneficiaries of the project, “We particularly welcome the consultation and involved approach of stakeholders throughout the renovation work of the Soumbedioune fish market. We greatly appreciated the fulfilling commitments of stakeholders, particularly UNCDF and the construction company, and compliance with agreed activities.”
More than 200 people are interested in having a sales point at the newly renovated Soumbedioune fish market. Of the 100 who are confirmed, 75% are female sellers, fish scale removers, and fish processors.
“For myself, I was guided by my faith and firm confidence in this project. This allowed me to believe in it and thus encourage my fellow fish vendors to trust it as well. As we have exceeded the progress of the work today, we are awaiting not only the finishing stage of the construction, but satisfaction in terms of management of the new market, customer reception and hygiene as well,” added Ms. Ndiaye.
An inaugural event will be held in the fall of 2023 to bring in donors, partners, and stakeholders. This rehabilitation project has potential for replication in other markets along the coast of Senegal, as well as new partnerships going into the future – thus expanding the reach and impact of this pilot in innovative financing of urban spaces.
Lea Desgranges, Portfolio Coordination Officer for UNCDF’s Local Transformative Finance Team West Africa, concluded, “Thanks to the grant awarded by UNCDF to the Gueule Tapee – Fass – Colobane Municipality to support the empowerment of women, the Inclucity Senegal project has been developed. It perfectly falls within the objectives of the municipal development plan of the Fass Emergent project initiated by the municipality. In addition to renovating the Soumbedioune fish market, Inclucity Senegal mainly aims to improve cleanliness, hygiene, safety, and above all the working conditions of the women sellers, fish scale removers and processors of fish products, while enabling them to strengthen their sources of income. Beyond the emblematic aspect of the Soumbedioune fish market to which the project has given new life and the empowerment of the women who are its key economic agents, the particularity of the IncluCity Senegal project lies in its systemic perspective. In fact, the bay of Soumbedioune, including the fish market, the craft village and other forms of commerce, offers significant prospects… for the development of new innovative financial mechanisms that can be expanded to other municipalities through public-private partnerships’ innovative approaches“.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).