[Pulaar pron. / ʒaʁdɛ̃ saʁe /, Community Garden]
Nutrition & Women’s Income
Water pumps & Fences
Solar Power & Planting Techniques
Corn and peanuts are locally grown and have been the basic ingredients for most dishes. In recent years however, cheap, white rice from Thailand or India became more popular and constitutes for many people in the region as their main food. White rice is cheap and easy to prepare, but do to their high content of carbohydrates, a rice based diet lacks important vitamins and proteins. A balanced diet is especially for children important for their growth. In small groups women around Mako have used undeveloped plots of land for small gardens that allow them to grow vegetables during the dry season to improve their families’ nutrition and generate some income when selling vegetables at the market. This is a unique chance for woman to generate their own income as most have very limited access to the job market due to their lack of formal education. There is no electricity grid in Mako nor running water, therefore women are reliant on wells to water plants, fetching water from a well is time consuming and exhausting, diminishing the potential of the gardens. In addition to this due to lack of investments the women are unable to finance an enlargement of the enclosure around the garden necessary to protect the plants from animals.
The women’s group ‘Mako Mosqué’ is one of the oldest and best-established women’s groups in Mako. Sixteen members come together in monthly meetings under the leadership of Hawa Diallo, the elected president of the group to talk about pressing community issues, lend each other money and prepare cultural ceremonies. In recent years, the group has also started a small vegetable garden to grow vegetables for their families and sell the surplus to the local goldmine. Twice a day they plant, water and harvest different vegetables in their garden during the dry season. The women’s group has gradually enlarged its vegetable garden over the past years and inspired other women’s groups to start their own gardens. The gardens allow the women to diversify their families’ nutrition by adding important vegetables. Furthermore, the group was able to generate some income last year by selling their surplus production to the local goldmine. Besides the goldmine, there is an increasing demand for vegetables and fresh produce from truck drivers. The regional capital Kedougou city has expelled truck drivers from stopping within city limits, therefore many of them do their overnight-stop in Mako, with that there is an increased demand for restaurants. The women are keen on collaborating with other women’s groups to construct and maintain a community garden that would not only allow them to feed their families but also to generate income. In addition to constructing a large enclosure, which would allow women to tend multiple garden beds protected from animals. A water pump pumping water to basins spread throughout the garden would make gardening a lot more efficient as currently a lot of time is spent getting water from a well.
Therefore, the project involves the construction of a fence around an area of around 2800m², a well equipped with a solar water pump will pump water into a water tower. The water tower with a volume of 2m³ will distribute the water into four different basins distributed throughout the garden. The Basis will be connected via a downwards sloping pipe system, so that water can be energy efficient distributed throughout the garden and the distance of carrying the heavy water cans can be minimized. The well pump will be powered by 16m2 of solar panels. The garden will furthermore include a tool-shed to store tools and fertilizer as well as to store equipment such as batteries and converters needed to power the well pump.
Any community member will have the chance to rent a garden bed (8m²) for season for 500 FCFA. This price will include the usage of the water-basin, watering cans and participating in workshops around cultivating vegetables as well as the possibility of giving the produced vegetables up for sale. In cooperation with local volunteers, we will offer workshops and trainings on planting and fertilising techniques at the beginning of each garden season, to educate the gardeners around how to most effectively grow their plants. The team at Project Mako will establish a link with the Goldmine as well as local restaurants to sell the vegetables, this will make it easier for the gardeners to sell their produce as they do not have to spend time at the market and wait for customers, but can collectively sell their harvest to the fixed prices to the gold mine and local restaurants. Furthermore, establishing this garden will create new trainee positions, for young people to learn more about agriculture and watering techniques.
Successfully executed the project will allow families to diversify their diet, while generating a small income and learning new skills. Furthermore, the garden will be a place for the community to come together, learn from each other, connect and be productive as a team.