Heat rises off the land and gusts of wind from the Sahara stir up the dry sand in these areas, scattering the grains amongst brittle grass and against scraggly trees. Desertification has been encroaching into rural Senegal year after year. With few trees in site, people are careful not to overuse their resources. However, many families need to use trees as firewood to cook daily meals over. This presents a challenge between basic human needs and environmental resources. Through CREATE!’s annual tree-planting campaign combined with improved cookstove trainings, many communities are restoring the environment in Senegal through reforestation and appropriate technology.

How Fatou Diop is Restoring the Environment Around Yougouré

Fatou Diop is a mother supporting a family of eight in Yougouré. Every afternoon she cooks a meal of ceebu jen (rice and fish) for her children over her improved cookstove, using only 2-3 pieces of wood. “Our grandparents had planted trees, it is thanks to them we have firewood today,” Fatou explains. “So now we are doing the same for the future generation.” This will be the second year that Fatou and the village of Yougouré participated in the annual tree-planting campaign since partnering with CREATE!. “We have planted many trees in the village and it will help us in a few years, there will be a good climate in the site and our houses,” she says. Restoring the environment in Senegal not only helps villages today but sets an example for future generations to continue engaging in sustainable activities.

Tree-Planting During the Rainy Season

Fatou and other women in her community planted a range of trees in their village from fruit trees like papaya to moringa, beechwood, and more. Since Senegal’s rainy season runs from late June to late September, now is the best time to plant trees so they can grow strong roots before the dry season returns. “We plant trees every year and we have the possibility to share it with other people because we have a big tree nursery in the site,” Fatou describes. Through training with CREATE!’s technicians, participants in Yougouré now maintain their own tree nursery where they raise seedlings throughout the year. In fact, Yougouré has enough tree saplings to share with neighboring villages too!


Fatou recently built another improved cookstove in her kitchen last week. While the clay is still drying, people often use this time to get creative with decorations.

Switching to Appropriate Technology: Improved Cookstove

Along with involving communities in tree-planting campaigns, CREATE!’s technicians also teach participants how to build improved cookstoves for their kitchens. Improved cookstoves are safer than open fires and use less wood per meal. “Since I used the improved cookstove I use two pieces of firewood for cooking a meal,” Fatou tells us. Previously, many families cooked over open fires which not only used an excessive amount of wood but were also dangerous because of the open flames.

Improved cookstoves are made from free, locally available materials so it’s easy for everyone to participate! “I am able to build the improved cookstove and I have the possibility to teach other people,” Fatou says. After attending one of the improved cookstove trainings, Fatou went home and built her own for her family. She can share this knowledge with friends and neighbors so that they can also support restoring the environment in Senegal right from their own homes.

Interested in supporting the re-planting and restoration of the environment in rural Senegal? Donate to the annual tree-planting campaign today! This year marks CREATE!‘s 10th anniversary in Senegal, $10 plants 10 tree.