Empowering Rural Populations--Reducing Poverty Through Sustainable Development
In Senegal, more than three million people--about 25 percent of the population--suffer from hunger either year-round or seasonally, resulting from a combination of long-term under-investment in the agricultural sector and from traditional vulnerability to food crises and external factors.
To address these issues, CLUSA International, a program of the National Cooperative Business Association, has been an integral partner in administering the USAID-funded Agricultural and Natural Resources Managment Program (USAID-Wula Nafaa), a multi-phase program, in Senegal since 2003.
"Wula Nafaa" comes from the local Mandinka language of Senegal, meaning, the “benefits of the forest.”
The program operates on the philosophy that empowered rural people are better able to generate wealth and secure their livelihoods based on sustainable use of natural resources.
USAID -Wula Nafaa has successfully contributed to the reduction of poverty and to the increase of local sustainable development, increasing revenues for rural producers and families based on the empowerment of communities and local authorities in the promotion of decentralized, integrated, and participator y management of natural resources.
USAID -Wula Nafaa improves food security in three additional regions by introducing improved management of agricultural and water resources, supporting market integration of smallholders and producer organizations, and creating an enabling policy environment for smallholder participation in agricultural value chain development.
Focusing on several priority value chains (including traditional and non-traditional products), CLUSA engages communities through:
- Training and assistance to improve and increase access to agricultural production in rural areas
- Biodiversity and the sustainable management of natural resources
- Increased accountable governance regarding community management of local resources
CLUSA is also helping communities understand and exercise their rights and responsibilities for managing local natural resources through the development of nationally mandated management plans and community-recognized local conventions. CLUSA works with local governments on policy issues including natural resource management and accountability, providing a holistic approach to improve livelihoods of vulnerable populations.
USAID -Wula Nafaa has reached thousands of rural farmers and their families in 86 communities, bringing training on conservation farming techniques, water management systems and biodiversity.
252 producer’s organizations, water users associations, business associations, and local community organizations have benefitted from the Program through management and conflict resolution training, and assistance with new technologies and credit.
A New Market for Women Producers
The Koba Club, a women’s cooperative in the poor Kedougou district of Senegal, produces fonio, a Senegalese grain that is nutritious and well adapted to poor soils, but that has, until recently, been sold to a limited connoisseur market because processing its small seeds is extremely time-consuming.
Through the USAID-Wula Nafaa program, the Koba Club obtained new processing machines and remodeled its workshops. CLUSA worked to stimulate national demand of fonio through product demonstrations and working with various agro-industrial enterprises involved in its marketing. A year later, the cooperative had increased its revenues 656 percent. Other fonio producers have rapidly sprung up, and demand for the grain is increasing.
With the profits pocketed from increased production and greater revenues, cooperative members have more resources with which to take care of their families’ needs, such as paying for health care and ensuring schooling for their children.
Charcoal: Sustainable and Profitable
Charcoal is one of the most lucrative forest-based activities in the Tambacounda region of Senegal.
In the Community Forest of Koulor, CLUSA organized 306 charcoal producers into 17 producer groups and conducted technical exchange visits with experienced producers in other regions of Senegal during the first phase of the USAID-Wula Nafaa program.
Producers were taught to use the Casamance Kiln, which increases production by as much as 70 percent, making charcoal production more sustainable and profitable. Participants in the training marketed 200 sacks of charcoal in just one day and made enough profit to return 25 percent of the proceeds to the local natural resource management committee to help fund the implementation of a local NRM management plan.
For Tambacounda residents, revenues from charcoal contribute to poverty reduction and ensure sustainable forest management.
According to Moussa Diop from the village of Ndiobene:
“Wula Nafaa staff have taught us not only how to make money making charcoal, but they have taught us how to make it without destroying the forest.”