Almost exactely one year ago the idea for our Gambian Youth Project was born. On the occasion of the first repatriations of 1,500 Gambian migrants from Europe and the USA.
Start of the Gambian Youth Project
Those first repatriations – since then in increasing numbers (link zum Oswald-Artikel) – present a huge challenge to the Gambian government. Resulting in great helplessness of the authorities by realizing the depressing lack of prospects for the youth in the Gambia. An unemployment rate among the youth of 40% and barely manifacturing in the country.
Our research has shown great potential in the agricultural sector in fact that nutrition is currently mainly provided by neighbour states as Senegal and Guinea. Besides European traders recognized the potential of the market which doesn’t simplify the situation.
But just starting and hoping to be able to get a piece of the action was never our intention. We strive for a holistic cultivation with a well thought-out entrepreneurial strategy, which at the same time serves the comprehensive education of the young people.
. . . let’s get started!
In autumn 2018, we came across a 12.5-hectare land area in Ballengho, which is ideally suited to our project. In agreement with the village community of Ballengho and after thorough pedological appraisals, we finally decided for the location in the North Bank region, near the river Gambia.
Many steps were necessary until the groundbreaking ceremony a few weeks ago. Financing had to be ensured, companies had to be found for the individual trades, quotations had to be obtained and agreements had to be concluded. A schedule with defined intermediate steps was created – indispensable for a successful infrastructure development.
Of course, everything does not always go according to plan. The clearing brought to light rocks that required a different arrangement of the garden, which means the transfer of animal enclosures to the stony area, the division of the proposed vegetable beds into areas with better topsoil. It also meant rethinking the water distribution system.
But obstacles are there to be overcome. The contractor, whose exemplary team impresses us again on every day, is also encouraged.
Thus, the second hole could be drilled at the north end of the site.
As with the borehole at the south end of the garden, a pumping depth of 60m – 70m has been announced.
During the drilling process, the sediment layers are continuously tested and sampled in a water cycle.
At the beginning of June we’re planning to start cultivation, so until then the solar pumping and irrigation system has to be finished.
Simultaneously the shell of the building should be completed, the interior work can be done during the rainy season. Until completion, the young people are housed in the village of Ballengho. And this is not the only support for the project. Many villagers are helping out with whatever is needed, like stacking lumber, supporting the brick layers, providing food for the numerous workers and much more.
We are progressing, but much remains to be done. The area must be fenced, the animal enclosure has to be built and the interior of the bedrooms and training rooms has to be set up. ‘Turnkey’ will take a while.
In addition, the production of a functioning infrastructure alone is not enough. Personnel must be acquired, the agricultural equipment must be procured, and – perhaps most importantly – the distribution and marketing chain must be built up or concretized. More about this coming soon.