Vibrant Village Foundation awarded CREATE! a $132,000 grant to support its work in Senegal over the next two years. Founded in 2008, Eugene-based CREATE! helps rural populations in the developing world cope with water, food, and fuel shortages resulting from the severe impact of climate change on their communities.
CREATE! works in underserved rural areas in Senegal, where most families survive on less than $350 a year. These rural communities rely on subsistence agriculture to meet their needs, but shifts in weather patterns attributed to climate change have worsened agricultural problems. Increasingly unreliable and unpredictable rainfall has shortened the already brief, three-month growing season.
With support from Vibrant Village Foundation, CREATE! is working with local leaders in the rural communities of Walo, Gagnick Mack, and Darou Diadji to address the challenges of climate change, food and water insecurity, and the lack of economic opportunities.
Over the next two years, the project will focus on rehabilitating hand-dug village wells or digging new ones to provide access to clean, abundant water throughout the year in quantities sufficient for household use and vegetable cultivation by using locally installed solar panels and submersible water pumps.
CREATE! will also train an estimated 200 women in sustainable agricultural techniques and mobilize them into agricultural cooperatives. In addition, these women will receive training and gain skills in tree nurseries, poultry production, improved cookstove construction, and financial literacy.
Vibrant Village Foundation International Program Director, Georgina Fields, expressed her enthusiasm about this new partnership. “We are excited to work with CREATE!. We especially like how the leadership from the communities of Walo, Gagnick Mack, and Darou Diadji approached CREATE! directly after witnessing their neighboring communities thriving with support from CREATE!. We look forward to working with CREATE! and these communities to improve their household well-being.”
CREATE! will utilize a participatory approach to design and implement these projects, which will each employ simple, technologically appropriate solutions. The goal is to provide training and support for these communities to build capacity to ensure that they can sustainably maintain the water and agriculture programs after the end of the project period.
N’Gme Thiam, a project participant from the community of Diender, praises the community-wide benefits of CREATE!’s programs. She told CREATE!’s field staff, “Our collaboration with CREATE! has brought our cooperative gardening group closer and encouraged a spirit of sharing. The program has brought progress to our economy and social development and has promoted unity in the village,” she said.
CREATE! Executive Director Barry Wheeler just returned from a visit to these new partner communities. During his visit, Wheeler met with village leaders and representatives of the women’s cooperatives in each community. “In our new project communities, as in the existing villages where CREATE! already works, I have been enormously impressed and inspired by the resilience, creativity, knowledge, dignity, and warm-heartedness of the villagers with whom we work and collaborate,” he said.
Photo by Louise Ruhr: Women in the rural Senegalese community of Darou Diadji celebrate their new partnership with CREATE! and the Vibrant Village Foundation.