Gardens & Wells
The Gambia is one of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. More than 50% of the population is below the food poverty line, and women and children are the most severely affected.
Gambia has a “wet” season and a “dry” season. During the wet times, most villagers are busy planting and harvesting groundnuts (peanuts) and rice. During the dry season, there is more free time, but not enough rain for the crops. Some communities need new wells or well repairs, and some need only to cultivate more garden area to provide year-round food. All it takes is a reliable working well, fenced land to keep out the grazing animals, and a few basic gardening tools.
Like all GambiaHELP projects, Garden and Well projects are done only if the community is in full support and promises to supply 25% of the cost, usually in the form of labor or land as money is rarely available. GambiaHELP’s garden and well projects have been transformational for many villages. The results are long-lasting and supply essential nutrition.
Mbaye Kunda is a small village in the rural eastern portion of The Gambia, where drought and food shortages hit hard. There are 600 villagers, mainly people from the Mandinka tribe, many of whom were surviving on one meal a day during the hungry months; the children were visibly suffering from malnutrition.
The community had one small garden that met only a portion of the village’s need. They asked if we could help establish a second garden. The Chief agreed to provide 5-6 acres of land, and the villagers would supply the labor. They already had a functioning well.
They wanted to cultivate onion, red pepper, eggplant, spinach, cucumber, squash and tomatoes, all staples of their daily cooking. Surplus vegetables could be sold at the local market so women could earn money to buy rice, groundnuts and fish.
To turn their bare plot into flourishing garden, they needed tools and fencing. The Bellevue Rotary provided a cash grant of $2,500 to purchase buckets, shovels, hoes, posts, nails, barbed wire, seeds, and fertilizer. GambiaHELP procured these, and Shelby Tarutis personally delivered the supplies and dedicated the project along with the village elders and the chief. Basic year-round nourishment has given this community new vitality.