Alianza por la Solidaridad awarded the Development Cooperation Award of the José Entrecanales Ibarra Foundation

 

The prestigious civil engineering prize has been awarded for the realisation of a project that will contribute to changing the lives of thousands of people from one of Senegal’s rural areas, which suffers from severe food insecurity.

 

Announced on November 30th, the prize of the Foundation has been awarded to the project presented by Alianza por la Solidaridad. The project consists of the development of a bridge-dam over the river of Sofaniama, situated in the cross-border region of Casamance. This infrastructure will not only connect the rural communities of Nioro Katim and Passy Ndery, currently separated by the Sofaniama channel, but will also bring into existence a hydraulic infrastructure that will favour the cultivation of rice in the most depressed area of the country. Both communities belong to the municipality of Kéréwane in the department of Kolda, near the border between Senegal and the Gambia.

 

Despite being a very fertile place, currently more than half of the population of the Sofaniama Valley (53%) lives below the poverty line due. This is due, to a large extent, to the fact that their agricultural and livestock development relies heavily on weather dependent irrigation, which is increasingly scarce due to climate change. The lack of infrastructure not only prevents proper crop irrigation, but when it does rain, many points of the valley flood, preventing the passage of people and food, as well as medical and educational services. This poor management of water resources contributes to food insecurity, which has become the norm and causes 70% of children in the area to suffer from anemia.

 

The bridge-dam as proposed by Alianza por la Solidaridad and designed by Isabel López Bernabé, will become a reality thanks to this award. The bridge will allow the passage of people and vehicles over the river. Consequently, not only will the two aforementioned communities be connected, but a new communication line between the Gambia and Senegal will be forged, which will prove essential as a way of increasing trade in the region. As a result of building the bridge-dam, it is believed that more than 50,780 individuals from the cross border area will cease to have access issues during the monsoon season.

 

Regarding the hydraulic infrastructure purposed for agriculture, the project is committed to developing an upstream spillway and a water diversion channel regulated by a gate, intended to divert water to areas of rice cultivation, which are out of use at the present.

 

The aim is to recover around 50 hectares of land and dedicate them to the cultivation of rice, an essential cereal of the diet of the population of Casamance. This translates to an annual production of 90 tons, enough to cover the nutritional needs of around 1,300 individuals. An important factor to take into account is the fact that local technology will be used and prioritised. The bridge will be low in maintenance costs and easy to use. The idea is that once the project comes to life, it will become the responsibility of the local authorities and the farmers, who will be able to use the water for their farmlands.

 

The construction will last about eight months, during the months of October and May, with the purpose of avoiding the rainy season.

 

As a grand total, the estimated number of direct beneficiaries will amount to 2,119 individuals, 1,096 men and 1,023 women, belonging to different ethnicities (Peulhs, Wolofs, Serer, Diolas and Mandingas), to which we must add the more than 50,000 who will use the bridge-dam for transit.

 

Alianza por la Solidaridad has been working in Casamance with the local Senegalese organization FODDE since 2007. Throughout these last 10 years, the Spanish NGO has carried out numerous hydraulic projects, among which a 15 km dam in the North Bank, funded by the Spanish Organisation for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

 

 

Rosa Maria Tristan, Alianza por la Solidaridad