For communities in rural Senegal, the sun is a reliable source of energy. Nine months out of the year, villages are exposed to clear skies without a drop of rain. Once the rainy season comes, it lasts for a fleeting three months before the sky clears again, leaving the land to dry out. Grasses turn golden in the sun, and the baobab trees hold onto every drop of water they can touch. When water is scarce, agriculture becomes less fruitful, and many people leave their villages and families to find work in urban areas. However, families in the rural community of Darou Diadji have found a way to stay together by using solar energy to access water.
From Abundant Solar Energy to Abundant Clean Water
Meet Ndeye Diop, a mother of four in Darou Diadji. During the dry season, Diop’s husband sought work outside of the village to support his family while Diop took care of their children. Once a week, Diop traveled by donkey cart or the back of a motorcycle down dusty roads to the weekly market to buy fresh vegetables. The produce was imported from other regions, and therefore very expensive. It would have been easier if Diop and the other women could cultivate their own garden from Darou Diadji. However, this wasn’t possible with the commercial water system. “We couldn’t garden in our village because we didn’t have appropriate water for it,” Diop recalls. “Before CREATE!, it was not easy for us to have clean water in the village and most of us used to drink the salty water from the tap.”
Rehabilitating Darou Diadji’s Well
In 2015, CREATE! and Darou Diadji decided to collaborate and develop the community’s self-sufficiency. The first step was gaining abundant access to clean water. As many people in Senegal say, “l’eau ç’est vie” or “water is life.” About 40 years ago, Darou Diadji abandoned its well for a commercial water system. Unfortunately, this new system was too costly to sustain a community garden year-round. However, deep at the bottom of the abandoned well was untapped potential. With the assistance of Darou Diadji, CREATE!‘s technicians cleaned out and refurbished the old well!
Installing a Solar-Powered Pumping System
With a revitalized well, Diop and her community had access to clean water again. “Since CREATE! rehabilitated the well, we have bountiful water in the village,” she explains. “Every day after work I bring 20 liters home for my family.” However, the well is over 40 meters deep with a bucket and pulley system in place. This means that Diop would have to use this strenuous method to bring her children fresh water every day on top of watering a community garden twice per day.
To offset this challenge, CREATE!‘s technicians installed a solar-powered pumping system with material purchased from local vendors. Using solar energy, this system pumps out thousands of liters of water per day into an elevated 5,000-liter reservoir for drinking. From there the water flows into multiple basins to use for gardening. Today, Diop and the other women in her village sustain a lush community garden year-round! “My children’s favorite vegetable from the garden is African eggplant,” Diop tells us. “I like to cook them rice and fish with the vegetables I grow myself.”
2020 Graduation: A Bright Future Ahead
Water is the source of life. It is also the foundation for economic success in rural Senegal. “We no longer need to leave the village because we have the means to develop ourselves,” Diop states. Now that Diop and her community have access to water, they can ensure food security for their village. The extra produce is sold in the market or to neighboring communities as a way to generate income. “I hope for success for my children and the village. I always encourage my village to work hard in CREATE!‘s programs because it is a means for development.”
This year, Darou Diadji will graduate to full self-sufficiency after participating and training in CREATE!‘s programs for five years. Stories like Diop’s really go to show how deeply people’s lives can be effected through training and empowerment at the village level. This is the kind of success we want for women across all of our partner communities in rural Senegal. Consider helping more women like Diop by donating to CREATE! today.