In Senegal, gusts from a northeasterly trade wind are blowing in from the Sahara, relentlessly scattering the dry grains of sand on huts, and sweeping over fires and young crops. This is Harmattan season. Women cover their faces with thin, colorful cloths throughout the gusts of sand that cloud sky as they walk to their community gardens. These gardens are often safer places to work since they are surrounded by thick acacia trees that act as windbreakers. This is one of the reasons women in CREATE!’s partner communities can continue to garden throughout the dry season. Aside from the Harmattan winds, gardening comes with its own set of challenges, however. In this blog post, we will learn how the community of Mboss is overcoming these challenges with appropriate technology solutions.
Looking for a Solution in Mboss
Located off a main road in rural Senegal, the community of Mboss has become a popular place to buy vegetables year-round and tree saplings during the rainy season. Mboss’s success is thanks to the determination, hard work, and innovation of the women’s cooperative garden group. Although they are months away from their next rainfall, Mboss’s solar-powered water system continues to fill the community’s reservoir and basins with sweet water for drinking and garden use.
Each day, women from Mboss meet at the small metal gate in front of their community garden. They will spend the day watering crops, preparing the soil with compost and weeding, planting, and harvesting when ready. As temperatures soar to 112 degrees Fahrenheit and beyond, it’s necessary to make sure the plants have plenty of water. Carrying watering cans in their hands or balanced on their heads, women will make multiple trips between the water basins and the rows of crops. A full watering can be exceptionally heavy, making this work labor-intensive and time-consuming. Because of this, many community garden volunteers began to discuss ideas for a solution.
Sharing the Success: Donating a Drip Irrigation System
In 2019, CREATE! decided to pilot drip irrigation systems in the gardens of two new partner communities. After the systems were installed, there were enough leftover materials to build another system in a smaller village. The community of Mboss seemed a perfect candidate as they not only have a secure water supply but were also one of the communities that wanted an irrigation solution.
At the end of 2019, CREATE! donated the irrigation material to the village of Mboss. Through their VSLA (Voluntary Savings and Lending Assocation), women from Mboss’s Community Garden Group saved money from vegetable sales and paid for a drip irrigation consultant to install the system. This project became a mix of pay-it-forward and Mboss’s ability to self-sustain their program. In December of 2019, the drip irrigation system was fully installed and ready to be put to use.
Sustaining a garden in a desert climate comes with multiple challenges. However, Mboss continuously overcomes these challenges with their motivation to try new solutions. Today, the irrigation system consistently brings water to Mboss’s 2.5 acre garden so that the women can continue cultivating an oasis in the desert, ensuring food security and income generation. Mboss exemplifies CREATE!’s mission to develop community empowerment and we couldn’t be prouder. They are an inspiration to CREATE!. “We always want to keep improving our approach,” CREATE!’s Country Director, Omar Ndiaye Seck says.
This is the kind of success we wish for families across all of our partner communities. Consider helping more communities like Mboss develop self-sufficiency by donating to CREATE! today and supporting a brighter future in Senegal.