On arrival in Bambakolong village, the team received a tumultuous welcome from the community with drumming and dancing. Speaking at a brief meeting with the community, the Programme Director of the Foundation thanked the community for their warm welcome. He congratulated them for the successes registered so far and urged them to continue with the important progress made.
The team visited the seeds store and milling machine provided by the project. Expressing her profound appreciation for the milling machine, a beneficiary Fatou Gano said: “I used to pound ten big cups (about 20 kilograms ) of grains manually and by the time I finish it’s almost sunset. Sometimes my daughter has to do the pounding for me which results in her going to school late. The milling machine has brought a big relief for me and my family. I can now pound my grains with the machine within a very short period and go and sleep”.
The team proceeded to the beehives belonging to one of the beneficiaries of the project who was trained in beekeeping.
In Ngawarr village, the team visited a sample Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA) farmer, Gawlo Sabally who gave a live testimony of the benefits derived from the support he received from the project and how it is changing his life and the lives of his family. Gawlo was among those smallholder farmers supported with quality seeds and trained on soil fertility enhancement (compost making, mixed cropping, intercropping). After receiving the training, he was able to train 138 other smallholder farmers within and outside Ngawarr. Gawlo stated that he is not only utilizing the knowledge gained from the project for his own advancement, but is also sharing it with other farmers in and outside his community.
In Sareh Annis village (Annis Kunda) which is predominantly a Fula community, the team was welcomed with Fula songs and a demonstration of Fula traditional wedding. Speaking on behalf of the tie, dye and batik beneficiaries, Kaddy Touray, expressed her appreciation and thanks to the Foundation. She disclosed that the tie & dye and batik initiative had significantly changed the lives and livelihood of the women in Sareh Annis in that it has enabled women to gain their own income, contribute in providing basic needs of the family such as food, school related expenses, medical expenses, and clothing. Kaddy jokingly informed the gathering that she is contemplating quitting farming and concentrate on tie & dye and batik which have provided her more income. At the end of the meeting, the women displayed their tie and dye and batik materials/products which include curtains.
The team concluded its visit with a debriefing held at the Ocean Bay Hotel. Part of the debriefing was a bilateral meeting between the Agency for the Development of Women and Children (ADWAC), an implementing partner in the project who made a presentation on the activities it has conducted under the Project. Lamin Jarju, the Programme Coordinator highlighted the registered achievements/successes under the project which include provision of farm implements, value added machines, seed and cereal banking scheme (restocking, Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA) farmer extension support, support on alternative livelihoods, capacity building trainings such as training on Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA), micro finance, climate change, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), resilience & early warning, use of botanical pesticides, Participatory Voluntary Analysis (PVA) among others.
Asked about his impression at the end of the visit, the Programme Director of the foundation, Mark Peter Lindberg expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to travel around the country with ActionAid and learn about issues on the ground, and how the different local implementing partners are doing their work. “We have really been impressed with the capacity of many of the organizations we met. They are helping communities identify important priorities relating to disasters and risk reduction”, he concluded.
The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation is a private foundation based in Minneapolis in USA. It is the funder of the Agro-ecology and Resilient Project, a two year project being implemented by ActionAid International The Gambia and ActionAid Senegal. The project seeks to empower smallholder farmers particularly women, their communities and organizations to withstand hazards and climate related risks through disaster risk reduction and to promote climate resilient sustainable agricultural practices.
The visiting delegation was accompanied during The Gambia visit by the Executive Directors of ActionAid International The Gambia and Senegal and their senior members of staff including the Project Coordinator of the Agro Ecology and Resilience Project, the Executive Director of ADWAC and his staff.