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Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal

by Center for Renewable Energy and Appropriate Technology for the Environment (CREATE!)
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Clean Water for 1,500 People in Rural Senegal
Woman filling up her watering can from the basin
Woman filling up her watering can from the basin

The cornerstone of CREATE!s sustainable development projects for communities in rural Senegal is access to clean water. With your continued support, in the last few years, more than 1500 people in rural Senegal, living in twelve CREATE! partner communities, gained access to year round clean water. Thanks to your generous donations and support from Foundations, these communities have embarked on a path of self-sufficient and sustainable development.

 

This path to self-sufficiency started with rehabilitation of existing wells in the communities. The CREATE! field technicians worked with community volunteers and local well diggers in every community to achieve that. Once the wells were working again, solar pumping and irrigation systems were installed that pumped the water to an elevated reservoir and from there to the agricultural fields. This meant no more pulling water out from the well by hand to irrigate the land. Some of the new communities also installed drip irrigation systems that made watering the fields more efficient and reduced the workload of the women who had to previously use watering cans to water their vegetable plots.

 

With access to abundant and affordable water, CREATE! agricultural cooperative members were able to grow vegetables year-round in desert-like conditions for the first time ever. In the community of Gagnick Mack, Ndeye says, “Before CREATE! rehabilitated our well, it was difficult to find vegetables in our village. Our children didn’t even know vegetables. Now, thanks to the garden and the guidance of CREATE!’s field technicians, we are able to grow a variety of nutritious vegetables in Gagnick Mack.” These nutritious vegetables are improving the health of the community members in all of our partner communities. For communities like Santhie and Wereyane situated in the Linguere region of Senegal which gets even less rainfall than the rest of the country, CREATE!s programs have helped them grow vegetables again. As Arame, the president of the co-operative garden group in Wereyane said, the reason the community had given up gardening before was because it had become too difficult to garden by pulling out water by hand from the well multiple times a day. Members of the gardening group in Santhie echoed similar stories. But with the solar pumping and irrigation system working, the community has abundant water in their garden site to grow vegetables year-round.

 

Members are also improving their economic well being by selling their excess produce in the village markets. Many women in the communities have now become vegetable sellers where previously they would buy from the nearby market. Women who had no work before have become entrepreneurs due to the community gardens made possible by clean water. They have also learned to save their income to use for future activities. The communities of Mboss and Santhie for example used their income from vegetable sales and their savings to install a drip irrigation system in their garden sites on their own. This reinforces CREATE!s aim to foster a sense of ownership among the communities towards their cooperative programs and their willingness to become self-sufficient.

 

Improved health and economic wellbeing are not the only benefits that access to water has provided. As Rokhe of Darou Diadji points out, “Before CREATE! our village was like a desert, but now thanks to the garden and the tree planting campaign, we have green space and many trees around the village.” This transformation from desert to thriving oasis is only possible through access to clean, abundant, and affordable water. Awa of Santhie sums it up perfectly when she says water is her favorite CREATE! program as “without water, we can’t do anything”.

 

While CREATE!s programs have been flourishing, the year 2020, with the pandemic and the ensuing challenges has not been easy for our communities in rural Senegal. As an organization, we have been reflecting on what it means to develop resilience and continue to build on our programs that address the diverse needs of our communities in this fast changing climate. Our Senegal team has worked tirelessly to accommodate those needs and changes while continuing our mission. With the experience they have been gaining through their work, our team is motivated to make our programs more successful. In order to achieve that success, we will need your continued support of our upcoming projects.

 

CREATE!’s new project on GlobalGiving will improve water and food security for 2000 people in rural Senegal and help them build a sustainable future for their communities. Be sure to stay updated with what’s going on with CREATE! by signing up for our email list, liking us on Facebook, following us on Instagram and checking out our blog!

The water basin in the communty of Santhie
The water basin in the communty of Santhie
Santhie before partnering with CREATE!
Santhie before partnering with CREATE!
Santhie after achieving water access!
Santhie after achieving water access!
Women with their diverse vegetable harvest
Women with their diverse vegetable harvest
Lettuce harvest in new community of Mbossedji
Lettuce harvest in new community of Mbossedji

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Hand Washing Station in Boustane Lo
Hand Washing Station in Boustane Lo

CREATE! partners with rural communities in Senegal to improve their access to clean water in an environmentally sustainable way. This water in turn helps communities cultivate nutritious vegetables year round, thus improving their food security and health outcomes. With the generous support from donors like you, the community of Boustane Lo in the Fatick region of Senegal partnered with CREATE! in late 2019 to achieve these same goals. The project started with the rehabilitation of an existing deep well of proven capacity in the rural community and the installation of a solar powered water pumping system that pumps water out from the well to a storage reservoir. With this water and the gravity fed and drip irrigation system installed in their garden site, the community now has means to successfully cultivate vegetables all year round.

 

By the beginning of the year 2020, Boustane Lo had already started producing six varieties of fruits and vegetables including eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and lettuce. All of these vegetables are a part of the Senegalese diet and used in the preparation of national dishes like Ceebu jen. But then in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country and its rural communities hard. To safeguard the country from the virus, the Government imposed travel restrictions and a curfew that prevented people from travelling to the different counties within the country. The curfew slowed down and stopped activities such as weekly village markets, an extremely important aspect of Senegalese life. Water scarcity in the rural regions of the country also made recommended hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the virus difficult to follow. Now, more than ever, these communities needed projects such as solar-powered water pumping systems to access clean water for drinking, gardening and sanitation practices as well as community gardening to put food on the table for their families.

 

For a community like Boustane Lo, not working in the face of the pandemic was not an option since their work is what helps them survive. CREATE!s Senegal staff worked hard with the community members to ensure their safety and well-being. To help them keep working while remaining safe, CREATE! held awareness training on all safety measures and suggested that the community members work separately with distances of at least two meters (6 ft), while wearing masks. With the help of generous donations from our supporters like you, CREATE! piloted a hand washing and sanitation station in Boustane Lo garden site and trained the members essential hygiene routines like washing hands often and disinfecting. The hand-washing station is providing the community members with clean running water to wash their hands after working in the fields. This water is coming from the rehabilitated well in the community and is reassuring the beneficiaries to carry out their activities maintaining proper hygiene.

 

Although activities have slowed down in the community and the curfew is restricting movement, the people continue to work in the garden site and produce vegetables. With the markets closed, the vegetables from the garden are sometimes their only source of food. The CREATE! gardens have also, in this time of need, become a temporary market for the nearby villages. CREATE!s water and community garden programs have thus helped the community of Boustane Lo, and the other partner communities adapt and survive the pandemic as best as they can.

Women farming while socially distanced
Women farming while socially distanced
The farming practices in pre-COVID days
The farming practices in pre-COVID days
Boustane Lo celebrating access to water in 2019
Boustane Lo celebrating access to water in 2019
Filled water basins in the community garden
Filled water basins in the community garden
Food to feed the family during the pandemic
Food to feed the family during the pandemic

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The joy of clean water!
The joy of clean water!

The community of Mbossedji, located in the Kaolack region of Senegal became a CREATE! partner community in May 2019, thanks to your generous support. After the Memorandum of Understanding was signed between CREATE! and the group, our team of technicians started to plan and implement CREATE!s program activities in Mbossedji, starting with the rehabilitation of an existing deep well of proven capacity.

 

Like many rural communities in Senegal, before partnering with CREATE!, Mbossedji only would cultivate a garden during the short (3-4 month) rainy season. Their commercial water system was too costly to support agriculture needs during the dry season. However, Mbossedji’s abandoned well proved to hold untapped potential. CREATE! partnered with well diggers, and fabricators to clean out and revitalize that well to bring back clean, abundant, and affordable water to the community. Since the well was 40 meter deep, it was impossible for the community members to draw out water by hand and use it for irrigation purposes. So, after the rehabilitation work was done, CREATE! technicians installed a solar powered water pump and panels to draw water out from well into a 5000 liter reservoir. This water then would flow through a gravity fed and drip irrigation system into a 2-hectare garden site that the community members had cleared for their cooperative gardens. With such a large garden site, the community of Mbossedji installed 2 water reservoirs instead of the usual one. They also piloted a drip irrigation system to decrease the manual labor of the beneficiaries and to efficiently irrigate their garden sites.

 

With water, Mbossedji now has the means to turn the desert into a lush oasis. Community members have started their agricultural training with CREATE!’s technicians and are putting their new knowledge to work. Since the beginning of November, 138 members are learning practical watering methods, how to use cover crops, how to create organic fertilizer and compost, and many more sustainable agriculture methods. As a result, Mbossedji has already started sustainably planting six varieties of nutritious vegetables right in their village. These include vegetables like okra, turnips, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and mint; all of which are used in traditional Senegalese cuisine.

 

Water is the source of life and the foundation for economic success in rural Senegalese villages. Water means lush gardens that produce vegetables. Vegetables lead to food security and a reliable source of income for families. Thank you for helping Mbossedji take the first steps towards building community self-sufficiency and learning to harness their own abilities. We are excited to see what the future holds for them. Your resources will make that future possible!

 

To learn more about CREATE!, check out our blog like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

A panoramic view of Mbossedji's future garden site
A panoramic view of Mbossedji's future garden site
Rehabilitation of the Mbossedji well
Rehabilitation of the Mbossedji well
Solar panels being installed in Mbossedji
Solar panels being installed in Mbossedji
Mbossedji garden site has 2 water reservoirs
Mbossedji garden site has 2 water reservoirs
Women in Mbossedji watering their garden plots
Women in Mbossedji watering their garden plots

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A water basin in the village of Santhie
A water basin in the village of Santhie

Every year, CREATE! partners with two to three new rural communities to improve their access to clean water in an environmentally appropriate way. But how does this clean water affect the lives of the people in these communities? In this report, we will try to answer that question with pictures and data, showing how, with your generous support of our program, the lives as well as the livelihoods of the rural Senegalese people are changing.

 

In CREATE!s integrated sequential approach to program activities, water is the cornerstone. With improved access to perennial water, partner communities can cultivate nutritious food year round in the otherwise dry and arid region of Senegal. This nutritious food not only improves the health of the community, but also makes possible an improved livelihood through the sale of their excess vegetable production. The income that the communities thus generate helps them pay for small businesses, purchase of other essential commodities as well as the extra spending during major holidays.

 

In 2019, CREATE! had 15 functioning partner communities who had access to clean water. Let us look at what they achieved with this water. With more than 300,000 liters of water being pumped daily from all the 15 rehabilitated wells using solar power, the communities were able to drink clean water and cultivate five to seven different varieties of nutritious fruits and vegetables. This helped improve the nutrition of the women beneficiaries of our programs with more than 98% of women in our active partner communities achieving Minimum Dietary Diversity, a verifiable nutritional indicator. Community members also produced nearly 20 tons of fresh vegetables for consumption and sale. The income that they generated through the sale of the vegetables helped them save money for future activities. Women in our partner communities each saved $20-$27 per month. These savings have allowed women to start small businesses. For example, women in some communities have started their own poultry raising activities after receiving training from CREATE! technicians on the proper method to do that. This has improved their nutrition further together with increasing their income.

 

The economic security the women achieve with the training from CREATE! technicians empower them for the future. In our partner communities, women take on leadership positions within the garden cooperative groups and the Voluntary Savings and Lending Associations they become a part of to save more, often for the first time. This gives them the confidence to become equal partners in family decisions and the belief in their abilities to be change-makers. None of this would have been possible without your support to improve their access to clean water.

Children drinking water from the basin in Thienaba
Children drinking water from the basin in Thienaba
Bountiful harvest in the community of Yougoure
Bountiful harvest in the community of Yougoure
Savings and Lending associations in communities
Savings and Lending associations in communities
Mother and Child in the village of Gagnick Mack
Mother and Child in the village of Gagnick Mack

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Tree saplings ready to be planted
Tree saplings ready to be planted

Every year during the rainy season, the CREATE! communities in rural Senegal take part in a tree-planting campaign. With the generous help of donors like you, the Government of Senegal’s Department of Water and Forestry that provide some of the tree saplings, and the CREATE! technicians who provide training, the communities plant about 20,000 trees every year. Preparation for this campaign starts early, with communities establishing tree nurseries in their cooperative garden sites. As Fatou, a beneficiary from Yougouré points out, the community members take pride in sowing seeds and caring for them with regular watering till they are ready to be replanted around the village. The sowed seeds as well as the saplings are cared for in “sachets” which are small black bags donated by the Department of Water and Forestry. Preparing for reforestation is not always easy though with soaring temperatures and pest attacks that are common during the summer months in Senegal. But with training from the CREATE! technicians, the communities persevere. They water the saplings regularly with water from the rehabilitated wells and use recycled mosquito nets to protect the saplings from pests.

 

Rainy season in Senegal lasts approximately from late June to late September. With the advent of the rains, the communities start planting the saplings they cared for all around their communities. Trees are planted in the cooperative garden sites as well as schools, mosques and individual homes. The community members are trained to take care of the saplings that they plant. These trees provide much needed shade where community members can sit and relax after a hard day’s work. Fatou from the community of Gagnick Mack for example has planted four trees in her house that she got from CREATE! and enjoys sitting in their shade with her children.

 

Together with trees that provide shade, communities also plant fruit and nut trees like bananas, papayas, cashews as well as trees that provide windbreak and can act as living fences in the community gardens. Acacia mellifera is a tree that grows fast and can soon form a nearly impenetrable barrier around the garden sites. This protects the garden from pests like cows, goats, donkeys and rodents. The local saying in Senegal is that even snakes cannot slither through it, which makes this variety of Acacia a favorite for the living fences, an inexpensive and culturally appropriate innovation for the cooperative gardens. Trees are also used as firewood in the region, so planting new trees every year is essential.

 

This year, two of CREATE!s new communities, Diabel and Yougouré are participating in the tree planting campaign for the first time. Diabel is establishing papaya and moringa plantations. The garden cooperative president of Diabel is thrilled to have her community participate in the campaign. She hopes that soon her village will become an oasis like the other CREATE! communities. While tree planting happens during the rainy season, these trees will be maintained year round with the water from the rehabilitated wells in the communities.

 

Trees regulate weather, which is important in the rural communities of Senegal that otherwise face extreme hot temperatures. Reforestation is a significant component of climate change mitigation strategies. A new study published in Science Magazine in July 2019 (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6448/76) finds that adding 2.2 billion acres of tree cover would capture two-thirds of man made carbon emissions. CREATE!s reforestation efforts might be small steps, but they are steps in the right direction made possible by generous donations by donors like you.

 

To learn more about CREATE!, check out our blog like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

Women in Diabel sowing seeds in "sachets"
Women in Diabel sowing seeds in "sachets"
Tree sachets are watered regularly
Tree sachets are watered regularly
Bednets used to protect the saplings from pests
Bednets used to protect the saplings from pests
Acacia saplings are used in living fences
Acacia saplings are used in living fences
Saplings planted to form living fences in future
Saplings planted to form living fences in future

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Project Leader:
Paulomi Battacharyya
Eugene, OR United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   
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