Big Changes for Ndeye Diouf

Ndeye Diouf has been a part of CREATE! for three years now, and has noticed big changes in her life in many significant ways.

“My participation in CREATE! programs has changed my life,” says Ndeye Diouf, 45, of Gagnick Mack. “I have noticed a great improvement in my family’s living conditions, because I now have the ability to better support them.” In particular, Ndeye notes the difference that the improved cookstove has made in her daily life. “When I was cooking with the traditional three-stone fire, I had to be present during all the cooking to keep an eye on the pot, look after the flames, and constantly add wood,” she explains. Not to mention, the three-stone fire produced a lot of smoke in her kitchen.  “Now with the improved cookstove, I can cook and do other housework at the same time and in complete safety,” she says. “There is no smoke in kitchen and the cooking time is very quick.”

Ndeye says she spends much of her time in the garden, as seen here where she is watering her okra plants.

The improved cookstove is not the only big change Ndeye has experienced from participating in CREATE!’s programs in her village. “The poultry cooperative has changed lot of things in my life,” she says. “I used to travel to Guinguineo to buy chicken, but since the establishment of the CREATE! poultry shed, I’m able to get them very easily and the price is cheaper in the village than outside.” The improved access to poultry, along with the fruits and vegetables now readily available from community garden cooperative, have all made it easier for Ndeye to feed and care for her ten-person household.

“Years ago we didn’t eat vegetables frequently, and there were no markets where we could find them but now we grow vegetables in our own garden,” says Ndeye. Gagnick Mack is a traditional farming village, where most people grow peanuts and millet during the rainy season. However, having a community garden provides families the opportunity to grow a greater variety of crops year round, with the help of their solar powered water pump installed by CREATE!. “Before CREATE! the village was unknown because there were no activities here,” says Ndeye. However, she now sees many people coming to the village to buy produce and chickens, providing greater opportunities for them to generate income, support their families, and do business with neighboring communities.

Arbor Day in Senegal

This year’s Arbor Day celebration was well attended by members of the public as well as delegates from religious communities and government agencies. The 2017 theme was “Trees at the heart of strategic territorial planning.”

This past weekend, Senegal celebrated its National Arbor Day, or “la journée nationale de l’arbre,” which has taken place on the first Sunday of August every year since 1984. Organized by the local governing council and the National Water and Forestry Service, and sponsored in part by CREATE!, this year it was celebrated in the Malka National Forest, near Gossas.  Attendees included administrative authorities from local and religious communities, members of the public, and a delegate from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.

Representatives from the National Water and Forest Service planted trees at the Arbor Day celebration to encourage communities to mobilize and support reforestation projects.

This year’s slogan was “Seedlings of Today, Forests of 2035,” underscoring the Water and Forestry Service’s goal of incorporating reforestation into strategic territorial planning. Activities at the event included tree plantings, visits to 2015 tree plantation sites, a guided tour by the Captain of the Gossas Water and Forests Sector, and a formal launch of the national 2017 reforestation campaign. The Water and Forestry Service also emphasized the importance of mobilizing communities, and recognized CREATE! for our work with reforestation projects in partnership with local communities.

As part of CREATE!’s reforestation program, partner communities grow tree seedlings in small satchels until they are large enough to transplant into the ground, as seen here in Santhie just last month.

To date, CREATE! partner communities have planted over 11,000 trees across rural Senegal with training from our technicians. The CREATE! reforestation program works in conjunction with improved cookstove trainings, by giving participants the skills and resources they need to replenish trees that they harvest for firewood. With reforestation as such an important part of CREATE!’s program, we were honored to be a part Senegal’s National Arbor Day this year, and look forward to watching the seedlings of today grow into the forests of the future!

Eating Local in Fass Koffe

“Before we began working with CREATE! vegetables we ate were coming from Kaolack but now thanks to the site we are able to eat vegetables without leaving the village.”

Anyone who’s been to a farmer’s market in their community knows the value of being able to buy fresh, locally grown produce from a nearby farm or garden, rather than having to buy fruits and vegetables that have been shipped across the country or grown on industrial farms.  Less than a decade ago, people in the community of Fass Koffe would have never thought they’d be growing and selling their own produce for the local market; rather, vegetables had to be bought from distant regions of Senegal and their options were limited. Today however, Sophie N’diaye points out that “There is a big improvement in Fass market because almost all the vegetables come from our community.”

Sophie, age 65, has been participating in CREATE!’s programs for 6 years now, long enough to see the profound differences it has made in her community. In fact, Fass Koffe is one of CREATE!’s graduated communities, and is now successfully running all of its programs on its own.

As a graduated community, men and women in Fass Koffe now run all of their own programs and community gardens using skills and knowledge that they learned through CREATE!

Communities that partner with CREATE! receive five years of training and assistance from our team of technicians in Senegal, who teach them to build improved cookstoves, rehabilitate their wells, start income generation programs like poultry sheds and VSLAs, and establish cooperatively managed community gardens where they can grow food year-round. If they’ve reached self-sufficiency after five years, communities like Fass Koffe graduate from the program with everything they need to continue their projects on their own, with only periodic check-ins and support as needed from CREATE! technicians.

“With the tree planting program, we all now have shade to sit under when it’s hot,” says Sophie, who also appreciates the abundance of clean water from their hand-dug well for drinking and for irrigating their gardens. She says there are now many poultry sheds in the village as well, providing chickens for them to eat and sell on the market, while the VSLA program helps women to save money from their market sales and provide loans to those who need them. The beautiful transformation of Fass Koffe that Sophie has seen is evidence of the great work and participation that members of the community have committed to continuing their success as part of the CREATE! program.

Well Rehabilitation in Santhie

Water truly means life for people who live in desert regions of Senegal, like the village of Santhie, one of CREATE!’s newest partner communities. However, it can also be one of the biggest challenges to address. Up until about 40 years ago, rural villages maintained their own wells, but when the government began making water available through a commercial system, these wells were abandoned, and in some cases, became trash pits. Over the years, however, commercial water has become cost prohibitive for use in growing food for local consumption.  Yet, thousands of wells remain, offering untapped potential as sources of clean, affordable water.

The new, locally built winch system uses hand cranks, powered by volunteers from the village, to bring equipment and people up and down from the well in order to rehabilitate it for use again.

Determined to find a local solution to bring affordable and abundant water back to Santhie, the CREATE! team in Senegal, under the guidance of CREATE! Founder Barry Wheeler, worked with a local fabricator to design a human-powered winch system that could lower people and equipment down into the wells to clean them out and rehabilitate them. An impressive example of how appropriate technologies, combined with community mobilization, can solve a longstanding problem.

Volunteers and CREATE! staff spent about a week hauling up mud and trash from the well in Santhie in order to clean it out

The winch has proven to be both affordable (costing only about $500 to build), and efficient, as it can be loaded in the back of CREATE!’s pickup truck and taken wherever it’s needed. With the help of CREATE! technicians and expert well builders, young men from Santhie organized to clear the well of its 40 years’ worth of trash debris, clean it, rebuild the walls, and fully rehabilitate it.

The new winch system is safer than the old methods for lowering people down into the wells, using extra safety ropes and a seat

The project has been an outstanding success. When fully operational, and outfitted with a solar powered pump, the well will once again provide the community of Santhie with a renewable source of clean, abundant water.  We send our enthusiastic congratulations to Santhie and the CREATE! team that made it happen!

Volunteers pulled up years and years worth of trash and muck from the well – talk about a dirty job! Major respect for the men who went down into the well to clear it out!

This is an exciting time for CREATE!, as our team works to rehabilitate wells in additional communities. And it is all thanks to the commitment and mobilization of our partner communities, the innovation and organizational skills of the CREATE! field team, and the support of our donors

As a final step, this plate (known as a “dalle de fond”) gets lowered to the bottom of the well so water can bubble up through holes in it, while the plate holds back mud and debris that would interfere with the operation of the solar powered pump.

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