One of our projects to combat malnutrition is the creation of communal vegetable gardens in the villages. The construction of a well with a solar-powered pump, a water tower, and an irrigation system will allow planting and harvesting throughout the year, even during the dry season. The gardens will thus provide sustainable local employment in Benin’s mini-enterprises.
Thanks to subsidies from the Elisabeth and Amélie Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, the Province of Antwerp, the City of Mechelen, the Province of West Flanders, and the Province of Flemish Brabant, and the income from “A toutes jambes pour le Bénin“, we have already been able to create 13 gardens for a total budget of more than 100,000 euros.
We initially hoped that the gardens would be ready by the beginning of the dry season (end of November). However, due to some delays in obtaining approval from local councils to use the land for the gardens and then the heavy rains during the rainy season, the contractors started the infrastructure work later than planned.
So how are the gardens doing?
Land lease agreements allowing cooperatives to use municipal land for several years will be in place for all common gardens by April.
Cooperatives consisting of 15 women per garden have been formed for almost all sites. The selections of participants have been made. All that remains is to complete some administrative formalities.
All the wells have been drilled: 5 in the commune of Tchaourou and 8 in the commune of N’Dali.
The water towers and irrigation canals have been installed at the Tchaourou sites. Only the water tanks remain to be installed. On the N’Dali sites, irrigation work is still in progress.
In Tchaourou, the gardens have already been divided into sixteen plots: one plot per cooperative member and one plot per garden for seedling cultivation. The gardens will also be divided into plots as soon as the irrigation channels are installed in N’Dali.
The 13 cooperatives and the women who will manage the vegetable gardens will be supported in their start-up by the team of agricultural specialists of the Hubi & Vinciane Foundation in Benin. In the September newsletter, we hope to report on the first harvests.