Report from August trip to Senegal: Part 3
Sep 17, 2015

Yaya Diallo, whose education AFLK has supported from adolescence through his university degree and licensing in agro-forestry, is now Coordinator of Agricultural Projects for AFLK. Since April, he has been managing an AFLK-funded initiative to help women earn income through market gardening, or small-scale agricultural production, in the villages of Dialico and Sinthian. In both villages, women have formed associations in order to organize the harvesting and selling of okra, and have learned key agricultural techniques in the process.

In August, we saw the projects firsthand, and heard from Yaya about how they were developing. “In Dialico, the women harvest 20-25 kilograms of okra every three days, and one kilogram of okra is sold for 700 CFA,” Yaya said. That’s approximately $1.20 per kilogram, so every week the women can earn almost $30 from the crop, which is a considerable sum for the area. They pool their income through a Groupement d’Intérêt Economique, or a consortium designed to promote economic advantage, with the goal of having enough funds to undertake other projects.

Prior to working with Yaya, the women of Dialico were growing okra, but were expending greater energy for a lesser yield. The increased production — and decreased difficulty of labor — is thanks to the installation of a solar-powered pump for the village’s well, which feeds an irrigation system deployed throughout the garden. Yaya and Moussa Sene, the General Manager of Thread, helped the villagers set up the system. “When we installed the pump, it was a huge change,” Yaya said. “The time the women spent watering went from two hours to 30 or 45 minutes,” he added.

Because Dialico is in the arid region of Tambacounda, where the rainy season lasts but three months, it has an extremely deep well — dug to approximately 80 feet — in order to reach the water table. The labor required to haul up water from that depth, and then to carry it throughout the garden, was extremely taxing for the women. “Often, they wouldn’t even finish watering everything in one evening,” Yaya said. But now the pump distributes the water easily and efficiently, and not just to the garden, but to the villagers for general usage as well. “Everyone relies on it for all their needs, from laundry to drinking water to bathing to household chores,” Yaya said.

In Sinthian, the women are also making use of a solar-powered irrigation system to grow okra, but having not had prior experience with the crop’s cultivation, they are doing it on a smaller scale than at Dialico. “There, it’s an experiment in teaching the women to become market gardeners,” Yaya said. The women have planted a parcel of land on the site of Thread, which yields four to six kilograms of okra every three days. They sell the crop among themselves in the village, but are gaining confidence in their farming capabilities and plan to expand. “We are currently looking for a larger growing site,” Yaya said. “The women told me that they had always tried to have a market garden, but this is the first time that they have actually seen the fruits of their labors,” he added.

In Sinthian, as in Dialico, the goals are to keep expanding the projects so that the women can improve their economic situation. Thanks to the women’s hard work, and the expert assistance of Yaya and Moussa, we are seeing that it is possible.