Archive for the Cooperative Community Gardens Category

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.

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.

Making a Difference at Home in Walo

“Before we started working with CREATE! it was very difficult to find vegetables in the village because it is so small and there is no market, but now thanks to CREATE! we are able to eat vegetables every day.”-Aminata Diack

“I’m passionate about this project and I decided to join the CREATE! team because there were no jobs in the village, and women used to stay in their houses without anything to do,” says Aminata Diack, age 28, Walo.

In small villages like Walo, it is not unusual for young adults to leave and go to the city to make their living. This is partly due to the impacts of climate change: drought and variable weather patterns make it difficult for people to do agricultural work in their home villages in desert conditions, so they are forced to look elsewhere for employment. Those who stay behind to take care of the households are left with very limited opportunities. However, Aminata has seen this change with the help of CREATE! in her community. Living in a household of 10 people, including her husband, co-wife, and children, she has participated in all of CREATE!’s programs over the last 2 years, including crop cultivation, building improved cookstoves, tree planting, and poultry production.

“The improved cookstove is helping me to save my time because I don’t need to walk many miles for collecting firewood,” she says. The implementation of improved cookstoves, combined with the tree planting campaign, has also reduced deforestation around the village.

Additionally, Aminata has found that the VSLA (Voluntary Savings and Lending Association) program has made it possible for community members to save and manage their money, as well as provide loans for those who need them. She enjoys raising her own poultry through the poultry production program, as well as gardening fresh vegetables to feed her family. All of these projects together have made it so that fewer people are leaving Walo, and instead making their living through improving their own home community, which Aminata observes has made life better for the village.

Cooperative member Aminata puts compost around the newly transplanted green pepper. This time of year it is very hot in Walo, which is why it is extra important to take care of the tiny plants.

Taking the Initiative in Fass Koffe

The community garden in Fass Koffe has grown large enough that they needed to find a better way to get water to the farthest plots.

Since graduating from CREATE!’s program in March 2016, community members of Fass Koffe have kept up the momentum that they gained from five years of working closely with CREATE!. Using the skills they’ve gained in self-development and social mobilization, they continue to expand and sustain their gardens and income-generating activities. Recently, they took it a step further in exemplifying the level of self-sufficiency that CREATE! strives to empower in its partner communities, by taking the initiative to improve the watering system for their community garden.

Khady Kebe has been president of the Fass Koffe cooperative since its very beginning, and continues to promote CREATE!’s philosophy of self-development.

While they had more than enough water to meet their needs, thanks to their hand dug well and solar powered pump, they weren’t getting enough water pressure to pipe it all the way to the farthest blocks of crops in their garden.  “We know that without water, we can’t do anything,” said Khady Kebe, president of the cooperative, “so we decided to elevate the platform to see if it would improve the water pressure problem.” Khady has been the cooperative president since its very beginning, and dedicated the philosophy that CREATE! promotes to encourage participatory action in peoples’ own communities.

As one of CREATE!’s first partner communities, Fass Koffe now has well-established gardens that produce vegetables they can eat, and sell on the market to save up for things like improvements to their water reservoir.

Under Khady’s leadership, they got a quote of 250,000 CFA (about $450 USD) for the masonry, materials, and plumbing that they would need to raise the platform from their reservoir. This would provide a stronger gravity feed to take more water from the reservoir to the farthest basins in the garden. The community cooperative evaluated their finances saved up from the sale of their own vegetables and poultry at the market. It turned out, they had enough to fund the project all on their own and were proud to do so without assistance from CREATE!.

The freshly completed elevated platform has greatly improved the amount of water that can be drawn from the reservoir.

“Since the elevation of the platform, we have noticed an improvement of the water at the site,” said Khady Kebe, describing the increased water pressure that now enables them to more quickly and thoroughly irrigate all their crops.  The project was a success, thanks to the leadership of Khady Kebe and the teamwork of the community cooperative. Together, community members of Fass Koffe have shown what great things can be accomplished using the philosophy and approach that CREATE! strives to achieve with its partner communities.

 
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