“Energy to remain”: Green Cross Italy changes the future of rural communities in Senegal

Green Cross Italy operators explain to the communities the new planting techniques. Credits: Elena Seina – Tafzion Prod / Green Cross

Female farmer in Senegal. Thanks to “Energy to remain” project her property land can be irrigated by pumps powered by photovoltaic panels. Credits: Elena Seina – Tafzion Prod / Green Cross

Aisha has two children, which she has to raise by herself since her husband has emigrated and there has been no further news of him. She is now able to feed her children and sell the remaining food at the market, thanks to the new crop rotation practices introduced by Green Cross Italy. Amina can now send her children to school; solar panels installed in her field provide energy for water pumps, which means there’s no need for Dianaba and Lamine to collect water for irrigation.

Green Cross Italy created a starting point for the development of five villages in Senegal (over 22,000 people), by announcing the conclusion of the “Energia per restare” (Energy to remain) project. In a country where the strong potential for agricultural development is hindered by desertification, lack of crop diversification, the use of old and heavily polluting machinery, as well as high energy costs, around 2000 beneficiaries of the project can look to the future with greater serenity thanks to the strengthening of social resilience and increased agricultural productivity.

One of the families benefiting from the “Energy to remain” project together with local Green Cross Italy operators. Credits: Elena Seina – Tafzion Prod / Green Cross

This project was financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperations (AICS) and carried out in partnership with Enea, Fafd and Cultivert. Water pump systems, powered by solar panels, have been installed in the villages. Green Cross Italy has also provided seeds for cultivating 37 hectares of land. New agricultural techniques based on crop rotation have also been experimented with, while market strategies have been elaborated to reinforce crop sales.

The Matam Region has one of the highest migration rates in all of Senegal. It is the men, above all, who emigrate. Green Cross Italy’s field operators planned the interventions to be carried out with the women and young people who have decided to remain. All the benefitting families in the five villages involved have had direct experience with migration. By involving the local communities of these villages; Ballel Pathé, Sinthiou Diam Dior, Koundel, Sadel, and Woudourou, Green Cross Italy aimed to reinforce resilience and create further prospects for employment and well-being.

The real protagonists of this small revolution are the women; many of them have been left alone, without their husbands, sons, and brothers, who have emigrated to other African countries or beyond the continent.

We try to set in motion the energies of these women who wish to continue to live and work in their homeland” says Elena Seina, coordinator of Green Cross Italy’s African projects. “The women form the soul of these villages. Improving their condition, we contribute to give this country a future and to create better opportunities for their children. With “Energy to remain” we planted a seed that can open up alternatives to the roads of clandestine migration.