The Environment and Agriculture
by Rebecca and Jay Wozny, Saare Oumar, Senegal
Disposable goods, fertilizers, and pesticides have damaged the local waterways. As the villagers use more and more plastic bags and bottles, these items end up being washed into the rivers. Since fertilizers and pesticides are mainly used in the rainy season, these, too, are washed into the ground and water systems.
Another problem is erosion. The earth is dry for six months, so when the rainy season begins, the roads are washed away. Sometimes, sections of a farmer's field are washed away as well. All the flooding streams go straight to the rice fields and then to the river. Luckily, trees are plentiful here and help to control erosion damage.
Farmers plant the field crops—peanuts, corn, rice, beans, millet, etc.—after the rains begin. Since it rains fairly frequently, the farmers rely solely on the rains to water the fields. If there is too much rain, the crops rot and die. If there is too little rain, the crops dry out and die.
Women also tend the gardens in order to supplement the harvested field crops. These gardens must be watered twice a day. Frequently, the wells run dry before everything can be watered. This means that some seeds will not get watered and will probably die. Several small wells are usually dug near the garden area.
by Catherine Guillard, Samba Diarry, Senegal
A process of desertification has slowly and steadily decreased water availability over the years. The Sahara is gradually expanding, making regions of Senegal drier and drier. This is due, in part, to deforestation.
New technologies such as pumps and forages (a method of providing running water using a pump run by gasoline and a holding tank high above ground) have improved the water in some villages, but the villages that depend on well water have remained the same.
by Kathleen Rucker, Louga, Senegal
Because I have only been in Senegal for 18 months, and I'm not a water specialist, and I can't speak with any authority on this subject. But I believe that the installation of the community faucet has improved conditions here. The water in our village seems clean, and I do not know of any people who have become ill because it. This water system insures a clean, consistent water supply—assuming, of course, that the reservoir remains uncontaminated.