Climate change has taken a toll on life in rural Senegal. Families become separated as men look for work in places even as far as Europe. Women will stay in the communities to take care of their children, occasionally working during the short rainy season, or working in town. The separation of family, the loss of work, and the pressure of food security can affect not only the livelihood but also the mindset of the women. Through sustainable projects, women are working together to develop self-sufficiency in their communities. Women empower women in villages, lifting each other up again.
Meet Fatou Sarr, a mother supporting a family of three in the community of Yougoure. “Before I did not have an occupation and I depended on my husband,” she tells us. Having the financial burden rest on the shoulders of one household member has the potential to create uncertainty. However, things changed when Fatou and others in her community began agricultural training with CREATE!’s technicians.
Cultivating a Year-Round Garden
Since the land has changed, with desertification and unpredictable rainfall, so must the agricultural methods. It is vital to replenish the environment and introduce nutrients into the barren soil once again. One of CREATE!’s programs focuses on assisting villages in cultivating year-round cooperative gardens. Using solar energy, the village of Yougoure has year-round access to clean water from their rehabilitated well. As long as there is water, the community can sustain a cooperative garden.
Community members, like Fatou, meet with CREATE!’s technicians weekly so learn advanced agriculture techniques and plan activities for the future. “We have mastered many techniques,” Fatou tells us. “After graduation, I will be able to manage my own garden because I have the skills and knowledge to do so.” Now, instead of traveling a day away to the weekly market, Fatou can walk home carrying a full basket of vegetables for her children. “Since we have the garden site, my children eat many vegetables because it is always available in the village,” Fatou explains.
Creating Jobs in the Village
Once her children’s needs are met, Fatou can focus on generating initial income for her family. Because their cultivation has become successful, Fatou and the other women in Yougoure will sell the excess vegetables in the markets. “Now we have an occupation in the village!” Fatou exclaims. “Last year many women were in the towns for working, but the work here has brought them back to the village close to their families.”
Women Empower Women and Bring the Community Together
Every day at sunrise, women walk together to the garden site. Here there will spend the day working, planning, and harvesting together. “CREATE!’s programs have brought a sense of community to the village,” Fatou says. We meet every day together in the site, talking and laughing while working. Before we were staying many days without seeing each other,” Developing self-sufficiency is not just about establishing food security and generating a stable income. It is about women empowering women to believe in their abilities to transform their own lives.