Water Distribution System for Women's Garden & Tree Nursery

  • Agriculture
  • Community Growth
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Youth
  • The Gambia
This project is led by Natalie Mango, a Volunteer from New York

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The Association for Food and Environmental Security (AFES) is a community-based organization that has four objectives: 1) reforest the bush 2) restore natural mangroves along the nearby river 3) increase awareness about environmental degradation and responses and, 4) empower women with practical skills such as tie-and-dye or macramé-bag making. To support the first goal, AFES created a tree nursery in 2013 which produces seedlings to give to five surrounding communities. Two garden attendants perform maintenance, and women have garden plots within the tree nursery. Since its creation, the AFES tree nursery has come to produce over 30,000 tree seedlings a year. Members from all communities participate in tree-outplanting events, and provide seeds. Schools have received seedlings from AFES. Within the tree nursery there are five open wells, one of which has a solar pump and tank attached to it. This setup is insufficient, as the pump is intended for household use and frequently malfunctions. In addition, the location of the water system in the nursery prevents use of much of its area, as using the open wells is too much work. The proposed project would involve reinforced concrete reservoir base excavation, trench excavation and back filling of 336 meters and installation of seven tap stand across the garden to make a water distribution system. This would allow better use of the tree nursery grounds as it would also allow the planting of fruit trees throughout it to provide income for the association, and the expansion of a live fence around it to promote its sustainability. The PCV and counterpart will facilitate training activities on tree nursery management, compost making, crop spacing, nutrition and environmental education in both a local school and the community. They will also ensure a field trip to the AFES nursery by 20 girls from a local school and the development of a school orange and pomegranate tree nursery led by these girls which will be planted during the rainy season. The project also aims to support and empower women and girls, who have the most limited income and access to education in the community. It will do this in a number of ways: i) improved access to water in the tree nursery area will reduce the amount of time and energy women put into garden work, and therefore allow them to dedicate more time to their children, ii) trainings on composting and proper vegetable spacing aim to increase women’s yields and empower them financially, which will aid their children’s wellbeing, as women contribute to purchasing clothes and other items that contribute to their education and health, iii) trainings on moringa and orange-flesh sweet potatoes (OFSP) aim to improve nutrition and girls' ability to learn, iv) an improved water supply will increase the amount of moringa and OFSP that can be produced on the tree nursery grounds and used by mothers (both plants are already present there), v) a field trip to the tree nursery by members of the mother’s club and 20 girls from the local school will teach them tree nursery practices which will give them a new way to generate income through selling seedlings, vi) helping these girls lead development of an orange nursery at the school using practices learned at the AFES nursery will allow girls to gain experience with tree nursery development and leadership, and empower them with the possibility of using trees as a source of income as adults vii) once outplanted, the school orange tree nursery, and some pomegranate seedlings from AFES, has the potential to increase girls' access to vitamin C (in oranges) and iron (in pomegranates), with iron being particularly important as approximately 60% of children and women of childbearing age in The Gambia are anemic due to iron deficiency, and vii) once the orchard is developed it has the potential to provide income for the school which will improve girls’ education.

The Association for Food and Environmental Security (AFES) has demonstrated that it can sustain its efforts in the past. It successfully expanded its tree nursery from the nursery school setting to the current larger plot of land. AFES later switched its focus to youth groups as a tireless force for outplantings. This switch has the additional benefit that youth are exposed to restorative environmental practices and there is a transfer of skills to a younger generation. AFES has also proved able to effectively and promptly deal with issues that arise with its current water system, and have a reliable mechanic in the nearby area they call in case of trouble, whom they pay with funds from their association account. Currently the AFES leadership are committed to pursuing their goals and the involved communities are actively engaged in the project. The Nursery Attendant is motivated and continuously tries new techniques and supports others interested in agroforestry with seedlings, food plants and knowledge, while also ensuring the AFES tree nursery is at the frontline of seedling propagation practices and diversity. AFES intends that younger members of the association frequently present at the tree nursery will be able to continue its mission. AFES also relies on local communities for outplanting, has good relationships with their leadership, and in its activities aims to ensure they have structures to govern the monitoring and maintenance of its projects, and has made efforts to ensure that their VDC are involved and functioning well in support of their initiatives, which should ensure their longevity. The project team members also have local knowledge of bush trees, and tap in to an excitement of local community members to plant trees. In addition, AFES activities and its provision of seedlings provide alternatives for farmers to improve their farms and production. The project will be community-led in respect for their knowledge and the wonderful project they have developed and brought so far. AFES also aims to use the expanded water system to increase the production of food which has already been begun at the tree nursery site. Fruit trees will be planted and their fruits sold for income and funds will be deposited in a consolidated account for the maintenance and up keep of the project activities beyond the grant life cycle. The existing partial live fence will also be expanded to ensure the protection of the nursery area once the current fence becomes outdated.

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