DAKAR, MARCH 27 – Many of them are now alone, with husbands, children, and brothers having migrated to other African countries or other continents. “We harness the energy of women who wish to continue living and working in their homeland”, said Elena Seina, coordinator of African projects for the Italian NGO Green Cross that is working on creating job opportunities for women and youth, thereby generating an alternative to migration.
The “Energy to Stay” project, financed by the Agency for Cooperation and implemented with partners Enea, Fafd and Cultivert”, aims to improve living conditions in five rural villages in the Matam region, in the North-Eastern part of the country. Despite this area’s high potential, its development has been hindered by desertification, poor crop-rotation, the use of outdated and polluting equipment and the particularly high cost of energy. Furthermore, the Matam region has among the highest migration rates in Senegal.
Most of those who migrate are men. Green Cross operatives plan local initiatives with the women and youths who stay behind. All five villages involved in the project have experienced migration. “Women are the soul of these villages. By improving their living conditions and creating job opportunities for their children, we can help give the country a better future. We will have planted a seed that can open-up alternatives to clandestine migration”, Elena Siena remarked.
Poverty in Senegal affects as much as 48% of the population, and as many as 15% suffer from food insecurity. But these conditions are not unalterable. By mobilizing and bringing together the local communities of the Ballel Pathé, Sinthiou Diam Dior, Koundel, Sadel, and Woudourou villages, and those of the cities of Matam and Ourossogui, Green Cross aims to strengthen resilience by creating prospects of job opportunities and well-being. Green Cross Italy will install solar-powered water-pumping systems that will reduce gasoline consumption by over 2.700 liters a year and allow the cultivation of 37 hectares of land. Furthermore, new agricultural techniques based on crop-rotation will be implemented and marketing strategies to better commercialize products will be set in place.
Approximately 2 thousand people, most of these women, will benefit from the project, but the long-terms effects, associated with improved resilience and increased agricultural production, will affect the total population of the five villages, namely, more that 22 thousand people. (VB)