This summer, CREATE! partnered with Ndiagne Kahone, a rural village in the Kaolack Region of Senegal. After participating in an improved cookstove training with CREATE!’s technicians in 2019, community members in Ndiagne Kahone were enthusiastic about forming a partnership with CREATE! that would continue trainings to help them overcome water, food, and fuel shortages resulting from the impacts of climate change, and now, the impacts of a global pandemic. In just a few short months that CREATE! has been working with the Ndiagne Kahone, the village has already started undergoing a transformation.

L’eau c’est la vie – Water is Life

CREATE!‘s approach to development is founded on the concept of community well-being as defined by the communities themselves. Our technicians spent a few months working with members of Ndiagne Kahone to identify challenges and develop strategies for project activities. Once the Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the village Chef and CREATE!’s staff, it was time to start the projects, beginning with reclaiming and renovating the community’s abandoned well. The well water was tested to make sure it was suitable for drinking before the rehabilitation process began. Access to clean, abundant water is the foundation for economic success in rural Senegal and is especially needed for hygiene practices in the face of the global pandemic.

Ndiagne Kahone’s solar-powered pumping system and 5,000-liter reservoir. Here we can see CREATE!‘s technicians maintaining the solar panels.

While technicians were rehabilitating the well, the Ndiange Kahone cooperative members together with nearly 30 volunteers from the community cleared one hectare (2.5 acre) of land for their future cooperative garden site. After the garden site was cleared and fenced, local masons, with the participation of about 30 men from the community, constructed elevated platforms for the 5,000-liter water storage reservoir and the above-ground cement water basins for water storage and gravity-fed distribution within the garden site. In addition, technicians acquired and installed four solar panels, a submersible solar water pump, a water reservoir for the community and a drip irrigation system. The drip irrigation system lessens the work of the women by bringing water to crops even in the farthest corners of the garden. This way, women do not need to constantly carry heavy watering cans under the relentless heat of the dry season sun.

Bringing Life to the Desert

Once the water was flowing from the rehabilitated well to the garden through both the drip and the above-ground gravity-fed irrigation systems, the garden site was ready for cultivation. CREATE!‘s technicians began meeting with the cooperative members in October to start the training sessions twice per week. Trainings focused on the methods of skill transfer to the project participants, the establishment of the watering groups, the cost reimbursement system, and developing action plans for daily activities.

CREATE! technician Ousmane Diallo, is responsible for training and supervising the Ndiagne Kahone cooperative group of 76 women. Eventually, this cooperative group will take full ownership of this program after they finish training with Ousmane. As someone who has worked for CREATE! for over five years, Ousmane is passionate about sustainable agriculture. “CREATE! came along at just the right time. Rural communities and the environment need the programs offered by CREATE!,” he says.

Ousmane explains the process of transplanting pepper plants to several members of the cooperative garden group.

This season, the cooperative group chose okra, turnip, pepper, lettuce, onion, and tomato. These nutritious and diverse vegetables will make the community food secure. In a community where only 27% of women aged 15-49 achieved Minimum Dietary Diversity (MDD-W) in 2020 before they started producing and consuming such nutritious vegetables, we are excitedly waiting to see how these numbers improve in 2021.

In an effort to use only sustainable and organic means to grow crops, Ousmane is teaching members multiple environmentally-friendly techniques including organic composting methods using animal and plant waste. Composting is an excellent and sustainable way to turn barren soil and sand into nutritious garden beds for numerous vegetables and is the preferred way in all the CREATE! communities to grow food yearlong in order to achieve food security.

Adapting to Global Changes

Although the restrictions surrounding COVID-19 have slowed our activities, CREATE!’s technicians are committed to helping our partner communities install safety measures while still being able to support their families. In fact, soon after partnering with Ndiange Kahone, CREATE!‘s technicians installed a handwashing station in the newly formed community garden. The rehabilitated well and the solar-powered water pumping system now provides water to these stations. The community was also trained on safety measures like frequent hand-washing using soap, wearing masks, and maintaining safe distances while working. These awareness trainings on safety measures allowed them to keep working while remaining safe.

Michael Carson, CREATE!‘s Executive Director, uses the new handwashing station outside of Ndiagne Kahone’s community garden during his recent visit to Senegal.

As they say in Senegal, ndank ndank, step by step. Achieving self-sufficiency doesn’t happen overnight, each step in CREATE!‘s sequential program is essential and we couldn’t be more proud of Ndiange Kahone for taking the first steps forward. A special thank you to the Addax & Oryx Foundation for your generous support of our projects in Ndiagne Kahone!