Sintet is a rural farming village located in Western Gambia on the Senegalese border, 140km from Gambia’s capital city Banjul. When 5 of us first travelled to it in March 2012 we found a farming community living in basic conditions with no electricity or running water and struggling to survive.
The land they had to grow crops could not be used for three reasons:
- In the dry season which runs from November to late May they had no access to water.
- In the rainy season, when they did have water, the lack of fencing resulted in animals eating crops.
- They had no money to put up fences or buy seeds.
With funding and support from Project Gambia in May 2012 the villagers fenced a 100m x 100m and planted crops.
Since 2012 the farming project has grown and grown. In March 2013 the farm was extended to 200m x 200m of fenced land and in 2014 to 400m x 400m. Cassava, corn, beans and cashew nuts were some of the crops being grown. In the words of one Sintet villager, ‘Our children no longer go to bed hungry.’
The next stage of the project was to provide a solar powered irrigation and pump system which would enable crops to be grown during the dry season by drawing water up from a bore hole 24 metres underground. Following the tragic death of Mustapha, an 8 year boy who fell down one of the wells and 2 years of drought in the ‘rainy’ season, the need for the pump was heightened. So in March 2015 the ‘Well of Life’ appeal was launched. Over £12000 was raised and in April 2016 during Project Gambia 2016 we saw the solar panel, pumping water into the 4 large water tanks. Water from the tanks feed water to the 6 taps on the farm. There was running water in Sintet for the first time! The 4 large water tanks provide 20000 litres of water a day which means that crops can be grown all year round; feeding the whole community.
In June 2016 1500m of trenches were dug by hand and 1500m of pipes were laid. Sixteen taps were installed which now provide clean drinking water for the whole of the village.
Karamo one of our friends in Sintet writes:
‘Finally the water is running, unbelievable the villagers cannot believe it. They said they are so delighted that lots of them were in tears. It was very emotional. A very, very big thank you to everyone behind the realisation of this dream. Thank you a million times. This is the message from the villagers.’
In April 2017 Jabang Tamba was employed as full time manager of the farm. His role is to oversee the running of the farm to ensure that it is self sustaining, providing crops for the village and paying for his employment.
When we visited in November 2017 under Jabang’s management the farm was really beginning to flourish. Parts of the farm had been sectioned off for some of the women in the village to use and irrigation pipes were being laid. It was exciting to see a wide range of crops including beans, onion, nuts, tomatoes, bananas, sorrel and cassava were being grown. A large area of land had been sectioned off for cashew nut trees which will bring a high price at market.
The farm is not only providing food for the community but the crops that are sold at local markets provide money needed for basic essentials such medical care and education for the children.