Posts tagged Gardens

“CREATE! is like school!”

“Years ago, Darou Diadji was threatened by the desert because there were not many trees and it was very windy and dusty,” says Daba. “Now thanks to CREATE! we have a green oasis and each one of us has trees around the house.”

It’s scorching hot in the village of Darou Diadji, but rain clouds swell in the distance. Summer brings with it the short rainy season, and villagers like Daba Kane take advantage of the weather to help boost their crops. Before CREATE! began working with her community, though, Daba would not have imagined herself working out in the field, tending to her hot pepper plants as she’s doing now. “CREATE! is like school,” she says. “When we started I was a beginner. But now I have skills and knowledge from the technicians, and now I’m able to create my own vegetable garden.”

“Over the last two years my family food has changed because we now eat vegetables every day and have gotten healthier. Before CREATE!, we would go many days without eating vegetables because the village is so far from the market.”

The self-sufficiency and independence that Daba, age 40, has gained from CREATE!’s programs is evident in other parts of her life as well. “Chicken production in the village is a very important source of income for us, along with a source of protein accessible to the villagers,” says Daba. “And it is also a diversification of activities in the rural environment.” Between vegetable gardening, poultry production, tree planting, and their VSLAs, Daba’s community has integrated a well-rounded system of income generation into their daily activities.

Though she enjoys the variety of opportunities now available to her, Daba says her vegetable garden site is her favorite part of CREATE!’s programs. “It’s an activity I’ve wanted to do for a long time and just didn’t know how,” she says. The hardest part about it? “The weeds that grow quickly in the rainy season!” Even with such challenges though, Daba says that having her own vegetable garden has made it so she now eats vegetables daily, it saves her time from having to go buy vegetables, and now enables her to sell her own produce on the market.


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.

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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