The delegation in Fatick region in central Senegal. WFP / Paulele Fall
In early March, Toshinori Sato of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries traveled to the Fatick region of central Senegal to visit the Projet Bas Fonds (PBF), a WFP supported project that helps communities reclaim unused land and increase agricultural production.
He was accompanied by WFP West Africa Programme Officer Shoko Hayakawa, WFP Senegal Deputy Country Director Wanja Kaaria and Younouss Mballo, the Coordinator of Projet d’Appui à la Petite Irrigation Locale (PAPIL), WFP’s main implementation partner for the project.
The Japanese Government has contributed about US$ 1.4 million towards the project. Since 2010, 3,600 beneficiaries have developed 150 hectares of previously salinized land in Fatick for rice production and vegetable growing.
PAPIL provided technical assistance for the construction of two dikes, 22 wells, and 28 water basins for de-salinization and water regulation. This infrastructure desalinizes land to make it possible to cultivate, collects excess rainwater to use during the dry season and prevents floods.
The development of this land was done through WFP’s Food for Work scheme, whereby community members receive food in exchange for work on vital new infrastructure or for time spent learning new skills that increase the food security of households and communities.
“In our village, we have four groups of women who work the plot of land where two wells were recently constructed through the project. These wells made it possible for us to cultivate the land and grow vegetables,” said Marie Sega Sarr, the president of the Groupement d’Intérêt Economique, the project’s partner organization in Dioffor.
“The most important thing is that we no longer need to worry about how to provide our children and families with enough food and a balanced diet, because we now have food available in the village thanks to the efficient agriculture production through our hard work on rice production and market gardening,” she added.
The project also has a microfinance element: each group can put together their profits from selling their harvest produce on the local market towards a small credit fund.