CREATE!’s Executive Director, Michael Carson, recently visited Senegal this July. In this week’s blog post, Michael shares his experiences with our partner communities and team as well as CREATE!’s plans for the future with appropriate technology.
Thriving Community Gardens
We are reaching the end of Senegal’s long dry season. During this time, water levels are often lower in wells before being replenished during the rainy season. However, thanks to the appropriate technology of solar-powered pumping systems, communities can keep utilizing available water for agriculture. “Despite the regular drop in water levels, our partner communities have continued to thrive and produce tons of diverse vegetables,” Michael describes. Through training received from CREATE!’s technicians, more than 830 project participants, the majority of whom are women, continue to produce a variety of nutritious fruits and vegetables from their community gardens. Their current harvest includes tomatoes, eggplants, okra, turnips, and lettuce. Not only does this increase food security, but it has also miraculously helped women improve their income generation capacity. “Our 15 communities saved more than $26,000 in total during June,” Michael says.
Visiting New Partner Communities
“The women in Diabel and Yougoure, two of our newer villages, are already growing a multitude of crops, feeding their families and selling their surplus crops to weekly markets,” Michaels tells us. CREATE! partnered with Diabel and Yougoure in 2018. By the end of the year, both communities had reliable access to clean, abundant water with a rehabilitated well and installed solar-powered pumping system. In the past, these communities could only farm during the 3-4-month rainy season. However, as of June, both communities have produced over 4,600 pounds of vegetables this year combined.
Our 2019 Communities
CREATE!’s new 2019 communities include Boustane Lo and Mbossedji from the arid Fatick-Kaloack region. These villages initiated their partnership with CREATE! earlier this year and are ready to undertake the next steps towards developing community self-sufficiency. Our participatory approach requires a high level of commitment and community organization from individuals dedicated to developing self-sufficiency. Michael has high hopes for these two new communities. He explains, “I was impressed with the level of organization of the women that I met along with the support from their husbands and religious leaders in their villages.”
Leadership in Boustane Lo
Monsieur Diop, a brother to the village marabout, is an informal Community Development Volunteer in Boustane Lo. He has done an excellent job mobilizing and organizing the Boustane Lo villagers to prepare their land in preparation for our new project. “When I asked M. Diop why he volunteers to advise and organize his community,” Michael begins, “He told me that he had migrated to Dakar for work but returned to Boustane Lo to improve conditions in his village. He confided to me and our Senegal team that Boustane Lo would not develop without the efforts of women, who are fulltime residents in the village and are responsible for food production, child-rearing, and water collection. Our projects do not achieve their objectives and change women’s lives without unsung community heroes like M. Diop.”
Developing New Ideas in Appropriate Technology
Appropriate technology and local solutions are at the core of our work. That’s why CREATE! continues to seek new and innovative approaches to empower Senegalese women and their families. “It is inspiring to work with our team in Senegal,” Michael says. “They are completely committed to improving the lives of Senegalese women and their families and finding solutions to improve the quality of life in rural Senegal.”
Michael spent much of his time collaborating with CREATE!’s Country Director, Omar Ndiaye Seck. “Our technicians are seeking solutions to enable community members to irrigate their crops more efficiently,” Michael explains. The technicians are piloting a drip irrigation system in CREATE!’s newest partner community, Mbossedji. With this system, water will flow directly from the reservoir to the vegetable beds as well as to the basins. This reduces the workload for women who otherwise have to carry water from the basins to the vegetable beds consistently.
Exploring the Health Sector
In Senegal, access to available and affordable health care is often limited in rural areas. CREATE! is looking into ways to expand our programs into the health sector. “Our Senegal staff have floated the idea of integrating Mutuelles de Sante (Community Health Funds) into some of our most successful village saving and lending associations,” Michael explains. He also met with Save the Children’s Senegal Program Director in Dakar to discuss this idea. While the concept is still early in the making, we are hopeful that it will pave the way for better health outcomes in our communities.
We are so grateful for our supporters who have continuously been on this journey with us as we work with communities to sustainably develop self-sufficiency in rural Senegal. Your contributions help to bring our global community closer together, spreading the wealth of opportunity and kindness around the world.