85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet
6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases
About 66% of Africa is arid or semi-arid and more than 300 of the 800 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in a water-scarce environment
Water for irrigation and food production constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources. Agriculture accounts for ~70% of global freshwater withdrawals (up to 90% in some fast-growing economies)
Reading is definitely one of the more popular leisure activities for Peace Corps Volunteers. What were some of the books you read during your service? Did you bring home any books from your country? How many times did you read War and Peace during your 27 months overseas?
Yesterday I spent six and a half hours in a round table meeting with all possible community partners of the Linguere High School. It started out extremely well - the student government had put together a great (albeit rather dramatic - can a school really be in agony?) presentation about the problems facing the school and what they would like to do to change things. Then community member after community member came up to pledge their association’s support - the gendarmes are giving 100,000 CFA, the Association for the Development of Women is giving a ton of cement, etc. Then this one man comes up and goes, “Well, this is great and all, but why don’t we just have an NGO build us an entirely new school? That’s what they’re there for.”
He’s partly right. There are plenty of NGOs whose sole mission is school construction. But the attitude of “oh, we could do this ourselves but why bother because an NGO could do it for us” is one of the biggest obstacles that we come across in the Peace Corps. Many NGOs here provide resources of the monetary sort, while we are primarily here to work on capacity-building, and a lot of people have trouble understanding that. Not to mention that when a community has the motivation and capabilities to do a project themselves, I have a huge problem with them taking resources from an NGO that could be building a school for a community that has no resources whatsoever. (All of this rant glossing over the fact that the school is supposed to be a governmental project anyways, but the administrations of both the previous and current presidents have done nothing to fix things.)
Luckily, I think those who are most involved with the project, including Ngouille Sec (pictured above) and her sister Jamma, are pretty set on getting things done themselves. If everything goes well, by next October when classes start up for the fall 2013 semester, the high school will have at least two new classrooms. And that will be very inspiring to see.
Cashew nursery at the primary school cashew farm - Reality, most of these kids may become farmers or inherit the land of their fathers and mothers. Might as well start easy with some hands on lessons in tree nurseries and grafting. My hope is that the school cashew farm can be a leading example in the village for other farmers. We will see!
Peace Corps Community Development Volunteer Elizabeth Ogunwo is working with her host community in Senegal to build working bathrooms at a local primary school and establish a trash removal system in her neighborhood.
She Works, She Lives! (Elle Travaille, Elle Vit! French, 2008) is a documentary that explores the role of women in Senegalese society and highlights the importance of girl’s education in particular. Each of the five Senegalese women interviewed for the film come from diverse backgrounds and followed distinct paths to get to where they are today. Some of them come from small villages while others come from urban environments, some from supportive families and others from less supportive families. But at some point in their lives, each of these five women realized that she had the potential to be more and to achieve more than what was expected of her. This documentary looks at the histories of these inspiring women, the feelings they have about their work and their upbringing, and their hopes for the future of women in Senegal.
The film is being distributed to Peace Corps Volunteers and schools throughout Senegal along with a packet of supplemental educational materials to facilitate discussions regarding the role of women in Senegalese society.
Peace Corps Volunteers Katy Todd and Melissa Bernard are working with local Togolese community members to promote women’s empowerment by organizing the third annual national women’s wellness and empowerment conference. Throughout the five-day conference, 30 women will participate in seminars and activities to enhance their personal development and entrepreneurial skills. Seminar topics will include family planning, maternal health, nutrition, food security, social entrepreneurship and financial literacy.
"The conference helps women realize their potential to become leaders and role models, and to have a positive impact on those around them,” said Bernard. “Participants leave equipped not only with valuable information, but with confidence in themselves and a belief that they can make a difference.”
In September 2006, I left my home of Tucson, Arizona for what would be the most important two years of my life. After 3 days in Philadelphia, I was on a plane to Banjul, The Gambia, a country I had never heard of 10 weeks ago.
"On World AIDS day the members of the local HIV group MASUPHA (Makete Supplies People Living with HIV/AIDS) marched in the villages of Tanzania. The group members and I were wearing Peace Corps 50th anniversary Khangas made by Peace Corps Tanzania. The group members sang powerful songs while marching through the villages. Later, speeches were given by MASUPHA group leaders, health care workers, various village government officials, and myself, a Tanzanian environment Peace Corps volunteer. The event helped raise awareness of the HIV problem, encourage testing, educate villagers, and reduce stigma for those living with HIV/AIDS."