Providing the tools needed for long-term livelihoods support in Senegal

Published: 20 August 2013 14:25 CET

By Katie Robinson, Canadian Red Cross

Mayel Diagne is a 48-year-old father of five from Ndoye Diagne, a small community in northern Senegal. Following the erratic rainfall during the 2011-2012 cropping season, Mayel and his family found themselves struggling to eat and pay for family expenses like school and health care.

“I support my family by farming,” says Mayel. “When I am unable to grow crops to sell or feed my family, I have nothing.”

Drought has been chronic in several locations in North and Central parts of Senegal. Due to the severity of the lack of rainfall in 2011 that continued into 2012, the majority of affected households have been relying on an array of coping mechanisms that include family members seeking temporary work in cities, households reducing the number – or quality – of meals, and families resorting to selling their assets such as animals or land.

The Senegalese Red Cross Society aims to save lives and protect livelihoods to build resilience and minimize the impact of future droughts. This means providing emergency food and cash vouchers and screening acutely malnourished children, but also helping communities and families improve their income and resilience through appropriate farming practices and small business schemes.

Mayel received food, seeds for rice and millet, and gardening tools from the Red Cross. He is now growing crops with seeds purchased from the profit he made from selling the earlier harvest.

“I am very thankful for the help I received from the Red Cross,” Mayel says. “All of the assistance was helpful, especially the gardening tools. Before the Red Cross provided these tools, I had to rent them. We didn’t have enough in the community to go around and we had to share. Now I can tend to my garden whenever I need to.”