Green Cross Italy is undertaking a powerful project in the West African nation of Senegal, supporting sustainable water, agriculture and energy initiatives in communities, that will also create hundreds of new jobs and empower women.
The initiative, known as “Terre di confine – Freddas”, or the “Freddas Project”, is focused on Senegal’s most disadvantaged rural areas and is being supported by the Italian Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Due to the great development challenges facing many parts of Africa, Green Cross has intensified its work in the continent, developing integrated projects to fight poverty and foster sustainable development. Globally, the number of undernourished people has declined during the past 20 years, but the same cannot be said for Africa. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, that number has grown from 175 million to 239 million, with a significant increase in the last four years.
Through the Freddas Project, Green Cross Italy’s objective is to achieve, within three years, a long-lasting and sustainable development model, boosting livelihood and sustainable agriculture in Senegal, while focusing on female empowerment. It will focus on the villages of Gouriki Samba Diom, in the Matam Region, and Bokhol, in Saint Louis, two rural areas that base their economy on extensive and poorly mechanized agriculture. Here, over 60 hectares of abandoned land will be recovered and cultivated to provide food for local communities.
“The Freddas Project is an integrated initiative which, around the themes of water and agriculture, wants to associate the issue of renewable energy and employment, and a strong political action for women,” said Green Cross Italy President Elio Pacilio. “It not only promotes economic independence of women, but also wants them involved in leadership roles of the management committees.”
“This project has a great importance for us, and we want it to be a replicable model of intervention that applies the principles of economic, social and environmental sustainability in rural areas with limited resources.”
In Gouriki Samba Diom, Green Cross will also introduce the Italian natural, plant-based cosmetic company L’Erbolario, which will promote the campaign “Ibisco, un fiore per l’Africa”. Starting in May 2013, L’Erbolario will produce a line of products entirely dedicated to the project, whose funds will go to supporting local women and children.
Like every project, Green Cross Italy’s activity in Senegal will follow the environmental sustainability principles set forth by the organization. In particular, through renewable photovoltaic energy, Green Cross will produce power without use of fossil fuels to pump water necessary for irrigation, requiring lower production costs and reducing CO2 emissions.
The project will also provide jobs and empower women. Some 900 people will be employed, two-thirds of whom will be local women. Women will hold leadership positions in “management committees” to steer the project towards its fulfillment.
The Senegal River is shared between Senegal and Mauritania in this area. The project will promote water cooperation, showing how the watercourse can be jointly protected and exploited so not to inflame tensions between the two riparian zones. The project will show how a simple change in irrigation techiniques and cultivation can save 800,000 cubic metres of water per year.
“We wanted this project so much. It means a lot for me, and for all the women of our community,” said Ramatoulaye Kane, responsible of the female farmers’ activities for Gouriki Samba Diom village. “Certainly our land is arid and hard to work, but thanks to God we have the river near us and it brings us life.”
Ramatoulaye adds: “Now we are more optimistic for the future of our families and children. The women know we must work hard, this has never scared us, we have the power to do this. We only needed an initial push, and this intervention brings us this help. We will learn farming techniques that will help us obtain better results. We want to learn to respect the environment by using smarter water and energy. We know we can also improve our ability to cultivate, process, and store products, as cereals, fruits and vegetables.But to do this we need tools for agriculture and education. Our future and our children’s future is at stake.”
“To be successful, we are determined and will take advantage of the intervention of Green Cross Italy and L’Erbolario to bring benefit to all the people of our village.”