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Oyster women of Kartong

My Magazine 2022/01
2 min
One of the oldest villages in The Gambia, Kartong, is in the extreme south of the country, tucked inland just beyond the reaches of the lapping waters of the Atlantic. Beyond Kartong, there is only an immigration post, a small hamlet and a fishing centre before the Halahein River and Casamance in southern Senegal. Kartong is a pleasant town, which has always been famous amongst Gambians because of its sacred crocodile pool. Today it is also the centre of the sand-mining industry in The Gambia.

We visited Senegambia Oyster Women Association in Kartong. While men fish, this industry is entirely dominated by women who, besides harvesting the oysters, are also involved in conservation efforts. Women are going to the river to harvest oysters, boil them and sell them. The shells are burned to produce white lime, which is sold for use in construction.

If you want to have a closer look into the daily life and work of Kartong women, and at the same time give back, you can go to the harvesting area with them, participate in the boiling process, help them to fund capacity building training and much more. Gloves, water shoes and second-hand clothes can be great gifts for them.

Many members of society contribute to village development, associations progress and environmental issues, like Mr Mustapha Manneh.


Born in 1991 in Kartong, southern Gambia. Mustapha Manneh is an International journalist and environmental activist specialising in China Africa Relations. He is the founder and CEO of Their Voice Must Be Heard., Editor in Chief Kartong Weekly News and Chief Consultant at Green Consultant Gambia. Mustapha has gained popularity as one of those environmental champions campaigning against Chinese fishmeal factories. In 2018, Mustapha was invited by Greenpeace International at their AGM in Dakar as a guest speaker on the topic of China Africa Relations and Activism.


After years of working on farmlands and gardens, which have been all later destroyed by sand mining and unsustainable activities, we shifted our attention to any other lucrative business. Oyster farming was mainly practised by a few. Through the support of other experts, we were able to bring ourselves under one umbrella. Since the starting of the association, tremendous success has been achieved. The association was able to help each other in time of need. During the period from March till the beginning of the rainy season, many women are harvesting oysters and cockles in the Halahin River. A lot of women are a part of the occupation, and five villages around the Halahin River are involved:

  •  Kartong, with more than 60 women involved
  •  Niafurang, with 30 women (Senegal)
  •  Katack, with 40 women (Senegal)
  •  Kabajo, with 50 women (Senegal)
  •  Berending, with 10 women

If you want to spend some days in Kartong, you can contact Mustapha. His consultancy agency partners with lodges and guestrooms in the area for an affordable price for visitors.

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