Let’s visit the community of Thienaba in the Fatick region of Senegal. Five years ago, community members agreed to partner with CREATE! and collaborate on sustainable projects to develop self-sufficiency. Today, the village is independently thriving through water, agriculture, renewable energy, and income-generating projects! However, this success started with water.

Gaining Access to Clean Water

Meet Astou Diouf, a mother supporting a family of seven in Thienaba. Every day after she finishes her daily work in the community garden, Astou stops by the village reservoir to collect 20 liters of water for her family. “The well water is good for our health,” Astou tells us. People often describe this water as ‘sweet’ because it doesn’t carry salt in it like the general tap water. Astou says, “Since I drink the well water, I’ve notice how much healthier I am. I always advise the other women to drink the well water.”

Full days of working in the garden under the sun can get exceptionally hot, especially during the 9-month dry season. That’s why it’s essential for community members to have easy access to clean, fresh drinking water as they go about their daily activities. “There are many women who used to buy clean water outside of the community,” Astou recalls. “But since the well-rehabilitation, water is available in the community.” CREATE!’s technicians rehabilitated the community well, installed a solar-powered pumping system, and built above-ground water storage. Thus, improving Thienaba’s access to clean water with renewable energy which opened up opportunities for gardening and household use.

Supporting Trees Now and In the Future

One of the new opportunities that water has opened up for Thienaba is tree-planting campaigns! During Senegal’s short rainy season, the community plants trees around their village. Once they enter the dry season, the community is still able to sustain these trees through their unlimited access to water. Astou tells us, “Reforestation has embellished the community because every year we plant trees in the sites, houses, mosques, and schools.” She adds, “These trees will be important to our children’s future.”

Trees are essential for the future of the company and the present. Astou describes how there are many trees in the site now. “I have shade in my house thanks to the trees I got from CREATE!’s tree planting campaign.” Not only do these trees provide shade, but they also offer fruits and nuts that can be eaten and sold in the market along with vegetables from Thienaba’s year-round garden.

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Astou cares for her plot of lettuce in the community garden. Covering the plants with bed netting protects the crops from pests.

Developing A Year-Round Food Supply

Thanks to unlimited access to clean, affordable water, Astou and her community are able to sustain these trees as well as their community garden throughout the year. This means that they have a way of generating income year-round instead of solely during the rainy season. Astou recalls how she and the other women used to buy high-priced vegetables at a large weekly market hours away in Gossas.

“Thanks to the garden site I grow vegetables for feeding my children and for selling in the market,” Astou boasts. Now Astou and her community return to the market not to buy vegetables but to sell them. Since Astou started agriculture training with CREATE!’s technicians, she has developed an occupation for herself. “I have memorized all the techniques in vegetable cultivation. I am able to garden myself.”

This way, Astou can ensure a healthy and diverse diet for her children as well as a secure way to generate income. “Since we have the garden site, my children eat more vegetables and their diet has changed,” Astou explains. “Before CREATE!’s arrival we didn’t know where the vegetables we ate were coming from. Now we are eating our own vegetables and becoming healthier.”

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The women in Thienaba work together every day in the community garden to produce vegetables year-round for their families and to sell the excess in the market.

Improving Her Family’s Livelihood

Astou and her family didn’t always live like this. “Before, I didn’t have any activity, and it was very hard for me to support my family,” Astou admits. However, through her perseverance and dedication Astou has been utilizing her knowledge to create a self-sufficient lifestyle for her family right from her community. It’s incredible what kind of opportunities can generate with new access to water!

Stories like Astou’s really go to show how deeply people’s lives can be affected through training and empowerment at the village level. This is the kind of success we want for women across all of our partner communities in rural Senegal. Consider helping more women like Astou by donating to CREATE! today.