The clouds have cleared away, and the blue sky stretches from horizon to horizon as the sun scorches the parched Earth. It will be another nine-months until communities in rural Senegal see rain again. As the dry season progresses, the fresh green landscape from the rainy season slowly dries out and becomes barren and tanned once again. Exposing the sandy Earth and desertification that the land continues to face. This dry season in West African Climate is what leads farmers, mainly men, to begin to look for other ways to generate income for their families. Often leaving their villages to migrate to cities or other countries. Women will traditionally continue to stay in the communities and raise their children without a way to generate income.
Agricultural Innovations for West African Climate
Vegetable cultivation is impossible during the dry season without reliable access to abundant water. Because of this, many families go without fresh produce during this part of the year. However, by ensuring access to abundant and affordable water in our partner communities year-round, CREATE! is making dry season gardening possible while addressing the challenges of climate change in rural Senegal.
Accessing Water with Renewable Energy
Although communities will not see a drop of rain during the dry season, there is a source of clean water deep beneath the ground, and only accessible through abandoned wells. When the government began making water available through a commercial system, villages abandoned their wells. Unfortunately, commercial water is cost-prohibitive for vegetable gardening. Yet, thousands of the old wells remain, offering untapped potential as sources of clean, affordable water. CREATE! technicians work with local fabricators and community volunteers to rehabilitate these wells.
CREATE!’s Solar-Powered Pumping Systems
Once a well is rehabilitated, the community will have access to clean, abundant water for agriculture and household use. However, villages still use a bucket-and-pulley system to collect water which can be time-consuming, labor-intensive, and not sufficient for maintaining a community garden during the dry season. To combat this issue, CREATE! technicians install a solar-powered pumping system to pump thousands of liters of water daily into a storage system where people can get drinking water and fill their watering cans for the garden. Year-round access to water means that communities now have the chance to grow crops during the dry season for the first time ever!
Bringing Life to the Desert
Even under challenging conditions, CREATE!’s partner communities continue to sustain their garden sites. Women hand water each plant twice daily, using clean, affordable water pumped from rehabilitated wells using solar power. CREATE! field technicians are working with cooperative members to ensure that they are strategically watering to maximize vegetable growth without wasting any water resources. Our technicians, who all have extensive agricultural training, also work with cooperatives to cycle different vegetable crops throughout the year. During the dry season, cooperative members plant vegetables – such as onions, tomatoes, and peppers – that thrive in hot, dry conditions.
Generating Income During the Dry Season
Not only are communities growing enough vegetables to feed their children nutritious meals every day, but they have excess produce that they can sell in the market. Now men and women can generate income year-round without having to leave their families!