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Women in rural Senegal are working together to develop sustainable livelihoods and support an innovative, worldwide movement that helps others do the same. Through CREATE!’s participatory programs, Senegalese women are supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and creating change starting at the village level. SDGs are described as a worldwide “blueprint” to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. These 17 interconnected goals address global challenges such as poverty and environmental degradation, that if met by each country, could make for a better and more peaceful world.

Think Globally, Act Locally

At CREATE!, we believe that meeting basic human needs and responding to the effects of climate change go hand in hand. Our philosophy is that solutions to the challenges faced by rural villages in Senegal do not need to come at an environmental or social cost. Instead, responsible and long-lasting changes can be made that benefit local communities as well as the local environment. With the “think globally, act locally” mindset, our work directly relates to and supports the SDGs.

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Women water and tend to their community garden in the village of Yougourè. CREATE! partnered with Yougourè in mid-2018. By the end of the year, the community had regular access to clean water, and at the start of 2019, they were already cultivating a successful garden in the desert.

Meeting Seven Sustainable Development Goals

Through renewable energy, water, agriculture, and income-generating projects, Senegalese women are addressing these seven Sustainable Development Goals: No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and lastly, Climate Action.

Let’s take a look through these seven SDGs as well as hear from some of the women in our partner communities:

sustainabledevelopmentgoalssenegalNo Poverty:

This is our first goal. We strive to reduce poverty by assisting communities in developing self-sufficiency with environmentally sustainable projects. We provide training and support in four sectors: Water, agriculture, income generation, and renewable energy.

Nogaye Diallo from the village of Thienaba says, “Now, women have activities without leaving the community. They also have the possibility to take care of their children.”

sustainabledevelopmentgoalssenegalZero Hunger:

Our technicians train villages in sustainable agriculture techniques so that they can sustain year-round community gardens. Year-round gardens increase food security. This year, 98% of women in our communities achieved minimum dietary diversity (MDD-W), a verifiable nutrition indicator.

Nogaye Faye from the village of Mboss explains, “My children eat fresh vegetables and have become healthier because our vegetable production is very natural. We don’t use chemical fertilizers, and so the vegetables we produce actually last longer in the kitchen than those grown with chemicals.”

sustainabledevelopmentgoalssenegalGender Equality:

Normally, supporting the family rests on the shoulders of the man. However, women are selling produce from their community gardens in the markets and are now able to generate a stable income. In the communities, women will form Voluntary Savings & Lending Associations (VSLAs) where they help each other save money, take out small loans, and earn credit. In fact, 90% of women in our partner communities participate in VSLA.

Yague Toure from Gagnick Mack tells us, “I used to stay at home without any occupation. It was my husband who was working to support the whole family. Now, through CREATE!’s projects, we have the means for developing ourselves.”

sustainabledevelopmentgoalssenegalClean Water and Sanitation:

Our technicians rehabilitate the wells in our partner communities, install solar-powered pumping systems, and construct above-ground water storage structures. In this way, communities are no longer depending on the 3-4-month rainy season since they have access to clean water year-round. This water is used in households and for agriculture at almost no cost.

Toutane Diagne from the village of Fass Kane says, “I noticed a health improvement since I started drinking the well water. Before well-rehabilitation, there were many people that bought water outside of the community because our tap water is salty. Now, we have clean water in the community.”

sustainabledevelopmentgoalssenegalAffordable and Clean Energy:

Here in the desert, the sun is an abundant source of energy. So, instead of using fossil fuels to run water pumps, CREATE! partner communities use solar-power technology! Another way villages are utilizing clean energy is with CREATE!’s improved cookstoves. The improved cookstove is built from free, locally available materials. It uses less firewood, which saves trees and improves the local environment. In fact, women report a 60-80% reduction in firewood consumption.

Soda Top from the village of Ouarkhokh explains, “With the old fire, I spent many hours in the kitchen because I had to look after the pot. Now with the improved cookstove, I can put the pot on the fire and do other things outside. We no longer need to cut trees because we only need a few pieces for cooking.”

Sustainable Cities and Communities:

Through CREATE!’s participatory projects, villages develop self-sustainable communities. We partner with communities for five years until they graduate to self-sufficiency. After graduation, villages will continue to work and thrive on their own.

Ndeye Maguette from the village of Fass Koffe tells us, “Since we began partnering in projects through CREATE! we have been able to change our life conditions. Even my children can benefit from this sustainable development.”

sustainabledevelopmentgoalssenegalClimate Action:

CREATE! assists communities in combating the effects of climate change and empowers families to improve their livelihoods for generations to come. Our programs focus on the use of local and renewable technologies that do not contribute to the harm of the environment. In fact, our programs focus on reversing the effects of climate change on rural villages. Every year during the rainy season, our partner communities participate in an annual tree-planting campaign. Last year they planted over 22,000 trees total.

Coumba Ngom from the village of Wereyane says, “Reforestation is vital because we use wood every day for cooking, so it is very important to plant trees for our children’s future.”

 

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The community of Diabel harvested over 1,600 pounds of vegetables last month. Diabel started working with CREATE! mid-2018. Less than a year later, they have already created their own garden oasis in the desert. Diabel’s garden president, Boury Thiam, says “Now, women are working in the village and they don’t need to leave their families. I am able to work and take care of my children.”