Bringing Water Back to Rural Senegal
CREATE! manages a number of water projects in Senegal as part of our water sector, since access to water is often the most important and immediate need of agricultural communities based in desert regions. CREATE! ensures the availability of water in each of our partner communities with rehabilitated wells, solar powered pumps, and gravity fed irrigation systems so that community members are able to grow vegetables year-round on land previously limited to the cultivation of traditional cash crops during the two- to three-month rainy season. Each solar pump provides thousands of liters of water every day, which is then distributed through a gravity-fed irrigation system to basins in the village’s garden site. To date, over 9,000 people have gained access to clean, affordable water through CREATE!’s water projects in Senegal.
What is Well Rehabilitation?
Up until about 40 years ago, rural villages maintained their own wells, but when the government began making water available through a commercial system, these wells were abandoned, and in some cases, became trash pits. Unfortunately, commercial water is cost prohibitive for vegetable gardening. Yet, thousands of the old wells remain, offering untapped potential as sources of clean, affordable water.
Through our water projects in Senegal, CREATE! has partnered with local communities, well diggers, and fabricators, and together we have found that these wells can be cleaned out and revitalized to bring back clean, abundant, and affordable water. In 2017, our field team in Senegal worked with a local fabricator to design a human-powered winch system that could lower people and equipment down into the wells to clean them out and rehabilitate them.
The winch has proven to be both affordable (costing only about $500 to build), and efficient, as it can be loaded in the back of CREATE!’s pickup truck and taken wherever it’s needed. With the help of CREATE! technicians and expert well builders, communities have been organizing to clear their wells of 40 years’ worth of trash. They then clean out the wells, rebuild the walls, and lower a plate (known as a “dalle de fond”) to the bottom to hold back mud and debris. From here, a solar powered pump is installed, and water can be pumped into the village’s 5,000-liter elevated water reservoir to then be distributed into basins and throughout the community garden using a gravity-fed irrigation system. Well rehabilitation has become an integral part of CREATE!’s water projects in Senegal, as a viable means to provide clean, affordable water to communities that need it.