| Feb 9, 2024
Fields of Change: Nourish Community, Empower Women
In rural Senegal, agriculture is a way of life. As such, communities have identified the pressing need for clean, perennial water access to cultivate their farms and nourish their families. CREATE!’s projects aim to address the profound interconnections between climate change, water access, food security, community health, and poverty. In this process, we strive to advance opportunities for women in these rural communities. Women’s integration into programming, agricultural trainings, and microfinance techniques allows beneficiaries to redefine their connection to their homes, fostering new ways to nourish their communities and generate income.
Our climate smart projects use solar pumps and rehabilitated wells to improve perennial water access and train women to use that water for year-round organic food production in the desert-like Sahel region. This not only enhances nutrition, breaking the cycle of intergenerational malnutrition, but also generates income through surplus produce sales, fostering financial empowerment for women and their families. Numerous communities leverage the revenue generated from selling produce to form Voluntary Savings and Lending Associations (VSLAs). Through these associations, members engage in a collaborative effort to save money and access small loans. This initiative is particularly meaningful for individuals with limited literacy, as VSLAs prioritize inclusivity, offering a locally available solution that fills the void left by conventional banking institutions.
We recognize that women’s financial literacy and entrepreneurial capacity plays a pivotal role in improving the health and welfare of a community and drives meaningful change. For this report we would like to highlight two women from different partnership communities who have embodied this philosophy:
On a sunny day, 78-year old Mame Nogaye Diop basks in the shade of her cooperative garden in Fass Koffe, Senegal. There, she eats her lunch, enjoying the freshly harvested fruits and vegetables and taking in the clean air – even during the hot and dry summer months. As one of the oldest participants, in one of the first partnering communities, Mame and the women of Fass Koffe have experienced many of the transformational effects of CREATE!’s initiatives. Even when the sun weighs heavy on these Senegalese villages, women find respite in their community gardens, tending to their fruit trees and organic vegetables. Access to such spaces has increased their environmental, economic, and food security, thereby improving their overall health and well-being. Mame Diop and her daughter in law both enjoy the financial independence this project has given them. As Mame herself says, she now “earns and saves money to meet all [her] needs.”
CREATE! plays a pivotal role in establishing spaces similar to Mame’s garden, which act as havens for solace, resilience, and development. Mame’s experience encapsulates the essence of self-reliance and empowerment at the heart of CREATE!’s program. Her journey underscores how our collective efforts result in tangible improvements in both the environmental and economic quality of beneficiaries’ lives. Mame, like other participants, has the support and resources she needs to grow.
CREATE! beneficiary Awa resides in Santhie, Senegal, a village profoundly affected by climate change-induced desertification and diminished rainfall. Prior to collaboration with CREATE! she faced challenges accessing water and cultivating crops for her family. CREATE! has empowered women like Awa in Santhie and beyond, enhancing their access to water, food, safe cookstoves, shaded areas, and sources of income. Awa highlights the organization’s transformative impact, from the construction of clean cookstoves and reforestation projects, consistent access to drinking and agricultural water, the cultivation of community gardens and chicken coops, to the establishment of the invaluable Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA). “Thanks to the loan I get from the VSLA, I have registered two of [my children] at school.” CREATE!’s dedication in Santhie is but one example of the “significant impact” our climate interventions have on the daily lives of rural Senegalese women.
Awa’s story highlights how access to food and water enables income-generating activities, addressing intergenerational patterns of malnutrition and barriers to education. This nourishes both the bodies and minds of beneficiaries and propels CREATE! beyond singular interventions to confront intersecting issues.
Our organization endeavors to cultivate sustainable, environmentally responsible, and healthy communities in rural Africa, with women as the agents of change. Access to food and water forms the foundation of enduring solutions for lasting change, while VSLA programs ensure the holistic and cyclical benefits of CREATE!’s initiatives.
All of us at CREATE! would like to thank you for your generosity that has helped make this possible.
Thank you, Merci, Jerejef!
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Mame enjoying the shade
Awa proudly discussing her involvement with CREATE
Regular VSLA meetings