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.

Photo Highlights from Spring 2017

Every month, we receive dozens of fabulous photos from the CREATE! field team in Senegal – more than we can usually fit into our blog each week. So to celebrate the end of our busy spring season, and welcome in the new summer season, we wanted to share some highlights from the past few months of our field work in Senegal. If a picture really is worth a thousand words, we hope these photos will speak volumes for the incredible work our field team continues to do in rural Senegal each and every day.

CREATE! Founder Barry Wheeler visited the Senegal field teams in May. Here in Fass Koffe, he appreciated hearing from the women about the progress that they’ve made since graduating from CREATE!’s program.

 

As CREATE!’s newest partner community, Mboss will soon be replacing this traditional means of pulling water from a well with a solar pumping system installed by CREATE!

 

In a community where temperatures can soar above 110 degrees F, the shade of lush green trees and thriving gardens are a welcome relief, as seen here in Ouarkhokh. With the average annual temperature expected to rise by nearly 1 degree C in Senegal over the next 40 years (source: UNDP African Adaptation Programme) due to climate change, it is important to be nurturing the land now in preparation for the future

 

Thienaba is one of many communities in Senegal where women take part in CREATE!’s Voluntary Savings and Lending Association (VSLA) program. The program was introduced in response to community members’ need for a simple, yet effective, way to manage their money. As a self-managed, highly organized, and democratic money management system, it helps women gain basic financial literacy skills and that they can use to manage their profits from poultry and agricultural production programs.

 

Although many of CREATE!’s programs focus on helping women, men play a vital role in our program activities as well. In the community of Walo, for example, men volunteer to work in the community garden. With their involvement, they can also support their wives’, sisters’, and daughters’ involvement, as well as gain financial and agricultural skills to support their families together.

 

In Diender, the CREATE! community garden is now going on its 7th year, thanks to the dedication of the nearly 40-member community garden cooperative that keeps it running year-round. Here women have learned efficient composting techniques to reuse the organic matter leftover from their crops and donkeys.

 

Thienaba is one of many villages where members have planted fruit and nut trees as part of CREATE!’s cooperative community garden project. A total of more than 11,000 fruit and nut trees have been planted since 2010 in all of CREATE!’s partner communities.

Fresh Vegetables Improving Health

Fatou Khoulé says she began participating in CREATE! programs because “it was the first time for me to work in my own village.”

 

Fatou Khoulé remembers a time not so long ago when vegetables were nonexistent in her village of Darou Diadji. Living in a household of 15 people, having fresh vegetables now makes all the difference for her, her husband, her children, and her daughters-in-law. At the age of 60, Fatou Khoulé has found a noticeable difference in her health and the health of others in the village since they began farming vegetables and gained access to clean water thanks to the solar pump that CREATE! installed in the community.

Members of the village take part in cultivating the vegetables and trees that support their families.

 

Before CREATE! began working in Darou Diadji, the village was hot and windy because so few trees were growing there. Today, however, Fatou Khoulé reports that it has more green spaces and an improved climate, which contributes to better cultivating conditions for their vegetables. Fatou Khoulé has been very involved in all of CREATE!’s projects in Darou Diadji, including the tree planting campaign, vegetable cultivation, building improved cookstoves, and poultry production.

Having been a part of the program for two years now, Fatou Khoulé especially likes the poultry project, remarking that she can now eat chicken whenever she wants, along with her vegetables. She notes that the emphasis on building self-sufficiency, skills, and knowledge is what sets CREATE! apart from other NGOs. “CREATE! has given us skills and knowledge we can use forever,” she says.

 
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