In 1988-1989, the city of Dakar was rocked by youth riots, political unrest, and the cancellation of a school year, all of which led to the build-up of rubbish in public spaces. In response, a famous social movement germinated as youths set out to clean the city, buttress the failing urban waste infrastructure, and purify a polluted political sphere in a frenzied explosion of what came to be billed as participatory citizenship.
In 2007, widespread dissatisfaction was brewing over elite politics and the uneven distribution of the fruits of the city’s development, the city was plunged into another garbage crisis. Its municipal trash workers went on strike. Ordinary Dakarois staged dramatic neighborhood-wide trash “revolts” through dumping their household waste into the public space. Across the city, mountains of trash choked the capital’s grand boulevards and paralyzed many of the city’s functions.
Because of sea-level rise, the city of Dakar was fragmented into pieces. Meanwhile, the city is losing its green spaces. The issues of waste and environmental degradation are exacerbated because of a lack of waste infrastructure and a growing population. The third garbage crisis happens.
To guarantee political stability, the local government uses six main types of waste to create six waste islands in the middle of the city, to highlight waste as the main challenge during urbanization, celebrate people's awakening of citizenship, and generate six types of new landscapes and habitats to compensate for the missing lands.
A cluster of colorful semi-transparent bubbles flows up and down following the rhythm of wave and tide, holding plastic wastes from the city. On the bubbles, there hang lots of seagrasses. Some specific fish species are attracted to the island for food. Bubbles gradually sink because of the accumulation of plastic waste, and new bubbles arrive.
As time goes by and waste accumulates, the bubbles are sinking and plants growing, attracting an increasing number of fish.
As colorful as the clothes on the streets in Dakar, the textile island has piles of different kinds of fabric. As the accumulation of waste, the island absorbs water and is sinking gradually. Plants settle at the bottom of the island and grow. Fish swim around and eat the plants. Shallow water on the island becomes the home of small fish. Birds come and stand on the piles, staring at the fish.
As more textile piles up and absorbs water, it sinks, and more moss grows on its body. Fish gather here.
Although like a glacier from a distance, the glass island is extremely warm. Every year during the rainy season, it is the place where rainbows show up. The colorful glass beach results from the glass hills being hit by waves day and night. It is the home of cactus and crab. At night, it looks like crystal, reflecting light from the city.
As glass accumulates, the glass hill grows higher, more glass sand is formed, and plants grow and there have more crabs.
Terraced hills consist of organic waste stand on the organic island. Lush plants with different species grow between the hills. They look like a rainforest. The island is warm and smelly because of the anaerobic decomposition process, but are home to lots of animals and plants.
As more organic waste is transformed into organic matter, plants flourish and the island attracts more animals.
Construction Waste Island
Colorful corals with different species grow on different kinds of construction waste, and the gaps between the waste gather lots of fish. This artificial island, together with others, is the new home of lots of marine species.
Contanimated Waste Island
When you see birds change their direction and avoid a place, it is close to the contaminated waste island. Big and small ponds with colorful water reflecting the sky. Some hills bury materials that cannot directly contact with air. It is a place with dead plants and birds, and a bad smell. The quietness increases the dark atmosphere.