During this uncertain time with COVID-19, many people’s daily lives and routines have been turned upside-down. How has this impacted places such as rural Senegal? How are CREATE!‘s partner communities adapting to these changes and strengthening community resilience?
From cooperative garden group meetings, Voluntary Savings and Lending Association (VSLA) meetings, ceremonies, market visits and more, it’s not uncommon for people in CREATE!‘s partner communities to go through numerous personal interactions throughout the week. Kindness and hospitality – or Teranga, is at the heart of Senegalese culture. Custom greetings almost always include handshakes and close contact with one another. As you can imagine, social distancing has hit hard. Ceremonies and weekly markets are currently shut down, meetings are held less frequently, and people are abstaining from unnecessary travel.
With places such as the weekly market being shut down, CREATE!‘s partner communities now, more than ever, depend on programs such as community gardening to put food on the table for their families. They also depend on projects such as solar-powered water pumping systems to access clean water for drinking, gardening, and now especially, sanitation practices. Our work and their success are not possible without your support.
How Life has Changed for the Village of Mboss
Nogaye Loum, one of CREATE!‘s technicians, has worked side by side with the women of Mboss to develop agricultural and financial skills over the last few years. Building trusting and strong relationships with communities has always been a strong value of CREATE!. With the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19, these relationships have become even more crucial.
Turning to Local Leadership
Now more than ever, people are turning to their local leaders for support and information. Although visits have become less frequent due to safety, CREATE!‘s technicians took the time to educate and spread awareness throughout our partner communities. They also provided them with supplies to increase sanitizing methods. “After hearing the echoes of the pandemic, we took our precautions by applying individual and collective hygiene measures,” Nogaye says. Community Garden Presidents and other leaders within the communities are taking it upon themselves to ensure their community’s safety and resilience.
Nogaye said that she is inspired by Mboss’s Community Garden President, Ndeye Diop. Nogaye tells us, “She (President Diop) is more united and more dynamic than ever because she knows that the disease spares no one and that the food has ended, which is why she is taking the care of the site more seriously to meet the food needs.”
An Interview with Babacar Diop
In the temporary absence of President Diop, cooperative garden member Babacar Diop stepped in to speak with the CREATE! team about how Mboss is working to strengthen community resilience. He tells us that many people turn to President Diop for advice. “They ask how we will survive in the face of this crisis,” Babacar explains. “We will survive by raising awareness for the respect of hygiene standards to fight the disease in a preventive way.”
Along with taking hygienic measures, community members across Mboss are implementing precautions into their daily routines. “We cannot do certain activities outside the village because of the state of emergency decreed by the president of the republic and curfew. So, for now, we stay in the village, and we devote our time to work in the site,” Babacar describes.
Working Towards Community Resilience
Although activities have slowed down, people continue to work in the garden site right outside of the village of Mboss, making sure to keep the required distance between people and wear masks if possible. “Everyone is aware of the situation and are making sure to respect the 2m distance,” Nogaye says. In multiple communities, CREATE! would like to set up a handwashing and sanitation station near community gardens so members can ensure hygienic precautions when they leave the garden and return to their families.
Inviting on CREATE! Supporters to Take Action
For 10 years, CREATE! has supported and worked with communities in rural Senegal to develop self-sufficiency in the face of climate change. Today, in the face of COVID-19, we are continuing to support and work with our communities in whatever ways we can. Please consider helping our partner communities build resilience in the face of COVID-19.
This is How Your Contributions Can Help:
$20 – $50 will allow CREATE!‘s technicians to provide COVID-10 awareness and prevention training in each of our partner communities.
$50 – $75 will help CREATE!‘s technicians set up 17 handwashing and sanitizing stations in our partner communities.
$100 – $200 will help CREATE!‘s technicians construct a latrine inside a CREATE! community garden site to provide women with a safe sanitation place.
$250 + will support the rehabilitation of one well which will provide CREATE!‘s new community with reliable access to clean water for sanitation, drinking, and agriculture purposes.