Zaragoza (Spain)-Ouonck (Senegal) | Rehabilitation of infrastructres and strengthening of the economic activity of spirulina production in Ouonck

29 October 2022

For the third time, the PLATFORMAwards will put under the spotlights the best practices in city-to-city and region-to-region development cooperation. 8 projects have been shortlisted out of 18 applications. Everyday, we are presenting you two of them (sorted by alphabetical order). The 3 finalists will receive their trophies at the ceremony in Grenoble (France) on 6 December.

Discover how Zaragoza in Spain is presenting its partnership with Ouonck in Senegal:

The main objective of the project is the economic development of the youth of the city of Ouonck (Senegal), through the production and sale of spirulina (a type of algae used as a food supplement in cases of malnutrition, demineralisation and anaemia), which is marketed in powder form.

The production plant is owned by the municipality of Ouonck and was built in 2006. Due to a water supply problem, the factory was abandoned and the facilities were badly damaged. Once a continuous and sufficient supply of water had been ensured, it was necessary to refurbish the facilities. The Mayor’s Office carried out the refurbishment project but did not have the necessary funds to start it up. By means of an agreement of the municipal assembly, it was decided to ask for help from the people of the community in the diaspora and they contacted the Adiamat Association, which brings together women and men from Casamance (Senegal), who live in the province of Zaragoza.

Determined to lend their support to this intervention, they began contacts to improve the project and adapt it to the needs of the Zaragoza City Council’s call for subsidies. To do so, they had the collaboration of the technician of the AFRICAgua programme, a group of associations of people of sub-Saharan origin, to improve the interventions that were being carried out in African countries through co-development.

The project has been subsidised by Zaragoza City Council, in the 2019 and 2021 calls for proposals in the typology of development projects with Local Administrations in developing countries, through the Adiamat association.
Despite the restrictions caused by the COVID pandemic and the difficulty in obtaining various construction materials, it was possible to contract a local construction company, legally constituted and with sufficient capacity to undertake the work. Its commitment to the project was total and its manager travelled to one of the only two plants that currently exist in Senegal, the one in Ndiaffat, in the Kaolack region, to learn about the technical conditions and materials to be replicated.

The construction materials were purchased in a transparent manner and bought from local businesses, reactivating the economy of the municipality. Due to the poor condition of the old tanks, the plant’s five tanks had to be completely rebuilt and all the necessary equipment and tools were purchased.

At the same time, 4 young people (2 women and 2 men) were trained so that they would be sufficiently prepared to start up the entire production process. These people have been in charge of training another 24 young people, fifty percent of whom are women, who will start working in the plant when it is at full capacity, thus avoiding emigration.

In order to market the final product, it was necessary to comply with the sanitary food safety requirements that had recently been revised by the Senegalese government, and for this it was necessary to hire a consultant, the head of AF Consultin & Systems, who trained the new recruits and advised them so that the production of spirulina would comply with the sanitary registers and audits that would certify its suitability for consumption. It was also necessary to build a processing laboratory and install a greenhouse to cover the production tanks to avoid environmental contamination.

In the meantime, spirulina began to be produced, and as it was not yet authorised for commercialisation, the first collections were distributed among vulnerable groups in the community.

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