In January we committed to do work in 4 villages and in spite of Covid 19 hold ups the work programme is completed.
The largest of the villages Jamagen now has a fully functioning Clean Water System and an extensive Distribution Network.
In the same most northern part of the country near the Senegal border is the village of Sambayassin where the Water Systems has been completed. Nearby we carried out repair works on the existing system in Mallick Sarr.
Kerr Wally a village in which we had provided a Water System a few years ago had a village vegetable garden situated quite a distance from the nearest source of water. This resulted in hours per day being spent carrying water by the women to the garden. We have sunk a Borehole in their 1.5 hectare garden and work to complete the system is in hand. The garden also needs extensive repairs to the fencing which which will be carried out by the villagers once our negotiations on supply of fencing wire is finalised.
We are also encouraging compound holders with sizeable home gardens, 500 to 1,000 mt2 to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their cultivation by the introduction of Low Pressure Drip Feed irrigation. This is a long term project which we will encourage in all 10 villages with which we have established contacts.
Below is the young forward looking Alkalo of Jamagen turning on the Clean Water System for the first time. Current travel restriction made it impossible for us to be their to share in their celebrations.
These are official figures up to date as at last Sat 11th April. We also have regular communication via WhatsApp in rural villages and towns who are trying to cope with the State Of Emergency which is in place until mid May.
All bars and restaurants and non essential businesses are closed and non essential travel discouraged. Number 1 problem. Very few businesses are in a position to continue to pay their workers. Number 2. The Government is in no position financially to guarantee any, even a very basic level, of income to these people. Within a very short time hunger will be a serious issue and there is concern that this could understandably lead to civil unrest.
Bafaluto is the village we began working with in 2008. Most of the men there who had work are now without an income and when earning between Euro 60 to 100 per month its impossible to accumulate any emergency savings. Being aware of this we organised a delivery of 1 tonne, 1,000 kgs, of rice to be distributed in this village. We will attempt, funds permitting, to do the same in the other villages as the need arises.
The value for money is wonderful. 450 Euro per tonne, 20 X 50 kg bags. If you can donate 22.50 E (£20) for a bag we will ensure it is delivered where most needed. Thank you.
The orderly distribution was organised by the Water Committee headed up by Samba Bah, who until 3 weeks ago worked at the Airport. He has no idea when he will receive his next “monthly” pay cheque of 3,000 Dalasis (£50)
Having made commitments and organised funding on our Christmas visit it has been full steam ahead. both in Bafaluto and on the North Bank, more on it later.
The fencing repairs of Bafaluto’s 5 acre garden are complete and after clearing the remnants of the last harvest the women are busy planting the next one.
The village was lucky enough to get help from another donor last year to sink a small borehole, solar panels, pump and water storage tanks. For the previous 10 years since PING first established the market garden they have manually pulled buckets from depths of 6 mts from the round concrete irrigation wells. Many of the women we met at Christmas have been doing this back breaking method of irrigation since day one and are now so happy to have water available from the blue storage tanks.
Update shortly on the Water System progress in Jamagen up near the Senegal border, situated just about the bottom of the “k” in Niumi National Park.
Apart from the excitement and challenges of the Banjul to Barra Ferry our time on the North Bank was very successful.
Since our return three Boreholes have been sunk
Over the coming weeks a lot of work will be done by the young men of each village. They will dig the hundreds of metres of trenches to carry the distribution pipework to strategic location through their villages, in total well over 2,000 mts. Hard manual work in hot sunshine.
While this trench digging takes place the construction team using circular moulded bricks will build the water towers to support the minimum 6000 litre (6 tonne) tanks at a height of approx 5 mts above the ground. This elevation of the storage tanks ensures sufficient pressure to “push” the water throughout the distribution network.
Our very first village, Bafaluto ,some 11 years ago, still has the same fully function Water System. We see no reason , with reasonable maintenance carried out by the villagers, why it won’t continue for at least another 11 years. One of the best value for money investments we have ever made.
However the original fencing of the village vegetable garden has rusted badly much to the joy of goats and other 4 legged intruders. We contributed to the Garden Fund and a full scale repair job has been carried out. .
Banjul Ferry. An experience not to be missed!
To appreciate the huge significance of this short ferry journey we need to look at the geography of The Gambia, Africa’s smallest country.
Gambia is surrounded on 3 sides by Senegal, the 4th side to the west is the Atlantic ocean. The distance from the coast to eastern border is 300km and at its widest its only 70km.
The North Bank is obviously much poorer and less developed than the area south of the river. Apart from the politics of the previous dictator President being from the south side there are a few other reasons. 1) The international airport is on the south. 2) There are no significant tourism facilities since the beaches are not as accessible. 3) The ferry journey makes travel to the north difficult. 4) There is a very limited electricity supply.
Back to that ferry. All traffic travelling from the north or south must use this ferry (there is a bridge further up river but not an attractive detour). The ferry runs from 05.30 until 23.00 with Every sailing filled beyond capacity, all hours are peak hours !
Depending on the length of the “always overloaded” commercial trucks the ferry can only accommodate 2 or max 3 on any sailing. We have often seen 30 trucks queued at each port.
There is a queuing system but not as we know queuing. Because of the way in which it is managed you can be “on time” for the next ferry and for some strange reason find yourself queuing for “the next one”!
After 2 long dusty days on the North Bank we were assured that if we closely followed the white van we’d get on this ferry…. but, you guessed it, we found ourselves at the head for the queue for “the next ferry”.
Pamela was not a happy girl facing at least a 90 min wait as she watched the one we just missed disappear.
Looking on the positive side, this ferry crossing teaches you to have patience, a lot of patience.
The Girls Agenda have elected a new Board to oversee the Mandaur Women’s centre and have told us they are getting architects and builders on site in the next month. We will be building a security wall around the property first and then developing the internal area. The project will have a training area, a clinic, a residential block, and a production area so as we can manufacture sanitary towels .
Bafaluto water system is flowing well and funds are being collected from each family to ensure continued maintenance. The village population has grown to over 1000.
MuBullet Ba has had a lowering of water pressure which we are looking into and may be due to the extra pipework and taps that were added at the end of last year. This system is currently giving nearly 3000 people clean water in Njongon and Mubullet ba, so it may need a larger pump.
Fundraising is continuing with picture framing, wood turning and jewellery sales plus the women from the Girls Agenda sent us bracelets and necklaces which we were able to sell. We are applying to many organisations for help but so far none have stepped up. We have raised 40000stg towards the project so far but the budget is growing to 100K.
Every donation helps our women in Gambia move forward so
In a short edit from The Guardian and Accidental Pictures’ feature documentary ‘Jaha’s Promise’ we follow the journey of Jaha Dukureh from survivor of FGM and forced child marriage to Time’s 100 leader and FGM activist. Confronting her past, her family, her culture, her religion, country and its leaders, Jaha became a lightning-rod for change in Gambia, her work contributing to the eventual government ban on FGM and child marriage.
We are excited about the confirmation of the purchase of 100 by 100 metre site in Mansaur ,near Brikama. We will progress now with planning our building of the Women’s centre with the help of local architects and engineers. We really need support for this project so any help will be much appreciated.We have applied to several funding organisations but have been turned down,mainly it would appear that Gambia has been taken off many of the lists of countries approved for aid.
Pamela Morgan and Brian Harrold are the trustees of PING Charity and we thought we should put faces to the names.
We are excited about this year’s project, working with The Girls Agenda we are going to build the Women’s Centre in Mansour, near Brikama. The land of 100mt by 100mt is bought already and we are finalising planning approval, and we really need your help to finance this project. Every little bit helps so please hit the donate button now.