The solar driven water pumps that we installed in four gardens of the Baddibu district, produce enough water for the vegetable gardens. But too much water can damage the soil.
The solar pumping systems, which the foundation installed in four villages in Central Gambia from 2011 to 2014, produce about 220.000 liters of water a day. This means enough drinking water for almost 2.100 people and sufficient water for the entire 11 Hektar of vegetable gardens. The farmers – who up to then were barely able to grow enough for their own living – are now able to harvest throughout the year and earn an income with vegetable gardening for the first time in their lives.
Decrease of soil fertility
Having enough water ist a good thing. But too much water can harm the soil. The classical method of watering with buckets might be easy and need less time, but it has dramatic effects on the soils fertility. Through evaporation the salt will crystalize in the upper soil. This distracts valuable nutrition, which leads to diminishing fertility. A dangerous process, which we urgently need to prevent, so that also their children will be able to earn an income with vegetable gardening. This is very important to the women.
Sustainable water management
The use of watering cans has several benefits. First of all, the plants can be watered much more carefully. Particularly the still fragile seedlings profit from it. Even more important is that we save water. Watering with buckets meant pouring 30 liters on one bed of 1m x 5m. With the watering cans the women can spread the water much more equally, thus needing only 20 liters per bed. For the 12 beds of each women, they now need 120 liters less water! The only effort is, that it is a little more time consuming.
And who pays for the watering cans?
To prevent the harmful decrease of the soils fertility, the villagers are ready to not only spend more time in the careful watering of the plants, but also to invest in the purchase of the watering cans. Together with all 300 women and the youth we agreed, that half of the costs are paid out of their savings. The other half is paid by the foundation.
There might be more up-to-date methods, such as drip irrigation systems, for example. But with our limited financial resources and taking local conditions and traditional habits into account, watering cans are a very good option.
And when a watering can breaks, the women find creative solutions!