Mani Tese is active in Guinea-Bissau with the “JUNTAS: female empowerment in the Gabu region” project, co-financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, which aims to improve the economic and social conditions of women and combat gender inequalities.
As part of this project, in the last days of March, a visit was made to Boé, one of the poorest areas of Guinea-Bissau on the border with Guinea Conakry. Here the NGO AIFO, leader of the project, has created a series of gardens and Mani Tese, thanks to its long experience in the field, is carrying out training on agroecology which aims to be an instrument of female emancipation.
The visit touched three different communities (Tchetché, Tchancum Sate and Malangari) and the main purpose of the visit, our project leader Marco Cazzolla tells us, was to understand which hydraulic works could facilitate access to water for the beneficiaries and vegetable gardens.
The first garden we met, Marco tells us, is the garden of the community of Tchetché which is managed by seven women and three men. The garden is quite small, but it is located near the river and can therefore enjoy a wide availability of water.
Here the engineer of the group, Eugenio Ampa Djalank of the Associaçao Poceiros de Sao Domingos, recommended the use of a hydraulic pump to take water from the river and the construction of a cistern, located about ten meters above the ground, to collect water. The pumping of the water could take place through the use of a petrol engine, or through solar panels positioned above the tank, while for the irrigation of the gardens a tap would be needed to regulate the use of water.
As an alternative to the cistern, added the engineer, a kind of swimming pool could be built where the water pumped by the river ends up. The farmers could thus recover the water with a bucket and irrigate the fields.
After visiting the community of Tchetché, the journey continued to Tchancum Sate known for the production of palm oil.
Here the community garden is managed by twelve women and eight men and is located in an area with a lot of humidity and fertile soil. It is served by a rudimentary well (which has only a hole and no concrete construction) through which the water is collected with a bucket and a rope. The engineer’s proposal is to build a cistern above the well in which the water can be stored via a solar panel pumping system and its use can be regulated via a tap. Furthermore, a concrete wall could be built to protect the well.
A curiosity about Tchancum Sate is that it is a nomadic community that, at certain times of the year, moves to live in the woods in search of land to grow rice and peanuts.
After visiting Tchaum Sate, we decided to spend the night at the hotel built by the Dutch NGO Chimbo, which takes care of the conservation of the chimpanzees very present in this area.
The following day we headed to Malangari which is the most isolated of the three communities: to reach the destination, in fact, it was necessary to leave the car, cross a river in a canoe and walk for about two kilometers.
Here, the garden is managed by twelve women and one man. As in Tchancum Sate, also in Malangari we find a rudimentary well and the hydraulic engineer Eugenio suggested increasing the depth and diameter of the well and building a concrete wall to avoid possible accidents. Unfortunately, the lack of a direct road to Malangari will lead to an increase in the costs of transporting the material, but these obstacles will not stop our work!
Thanks to all those who made this monitoring visit. Di Mani Tese: Marco Cazzolla, project leader; Braima Baldé, agronomist; Malam Jau, driver. From AIFO: Mamadu Djau, agricultural animator and Moreira Mamadu Jalò driver. From the Associaçao Poceiros de Sao Domingos: hydraulic engineer Eugenio Ampa Djalank.
If you want to contribute to the realization of the project “JUNTAS: female empowerment in the Gabu region” click here: https://www.manitese.it/en/project/juntas-female-empowerment-in-gabu-region
Here are some photos of the visit to the Boé gardens: