Meet Arame Diop, the president of the Garden Cooperative Group in Wereyane. Arame encourages her group to overcome the obstacles of climate change while developing her community’s self-sufficiency in Senegal.
The village of Wereyane is located in the Louga Region of Senegal, and is no stranger to the hardships of climate change and desertification. Arame describes some of the problems that her community faced before they partnered with CREATE!. “We tried to garden but we couldn’t succeed because we had to pull water by hand from the well. That’s why we gave up.” Traditionally, wells are 100 feet deep or more. Therefore, pulling up water by hand multiple times a day becomes an exhausting task. Especially when you are trying to keep a garden alive in a harsh desert climate.
Self-Sufficiency Starts with Water
However, after partnering with Wereyane, CREATE!’s technicians installed a solar-powered pumping system. The system pumps water into a basin where Arame and her cooperative group can easily access the water for garden and household use. “We use the well water for watering our [garden] site,” Arame says. Because they have year-round access to clean water now, Arame and her group were able to successfully start a garden site again.
Currently, the Cooperative Garden Group is utilizing different agriculture techniques that they learned from CREATE!’s technicians. These techniques include using organic fertilizers, organic composting, cover crops, and live-tree fencing. “After graduation, I will be able to manage my own garden,” Arame tells us. CREATE!’s community programs are approximately five years long and Wereyane is just beginning their second year. They have already made incredible progress thanks to Arame’s encouragement and tenacity. “As president I will always encourage my group to work hard,” Arame says. At the end of the program, her village will graduate to self-sufficiency.
Supporting Self-Sufficiency Through Tree-Planting
Recently, Arame finished a tree-planting project with her community. The community planted a variety of trees for multiple uses such as fruits, nuts, firewood, and live-tree fences. Arame recalls, “Before CREATE! we didn’t have many trees in the village because we used to cut them severely without being aware of the inconvenience.” Now that they have replanted, Arame says that these trees will help future generations in her community.
Arame makes sure her family cuts down less trees by using a fuel-efficient improved cookstove. When CREATE! first partnered with Wereyane, the field technicians led a community wide training on how to build improved cookstoves using free locally available materials. Arame built two improved cookstoves in her kitchen. On average, the improved cookstove only uses 2-3 pieces of firewood per meal because the enclosed walls trap more heat. Arame explains, “Thanks to the cookstove we no longer need to cut many trees for cooking because a load can last many months in the house.” Many other women in the village have also adopted this new cooking technique. Arame tells us, “The cookstove has improved security in the village because the way it is built is very secure and the flames can’t get out”.
Arame’s takes her position as Garden Cooperative President seriously. She knows that her community is capable of sustainably achieving self-sufficiency and is ready to take on the challenge. Her story shows how deeply people’s lives can be affected through training and empowerment at the village level. Arame’s empowerment encourages other women in the village, who in turn, inspire their daughters and the next generation.