Conclusion Of Foni Kansala District Rehab Tour Phase-1
West Coast Region, The Gambia
Foni Kansala District is one of the nine districts of the Gambia‘s West Coast Region, which is located to the south of the Gambia River in the southwest of the country. Foni Kansala is in the southeast of the Region, between Foni Bintang-Karenai and Foni Bondali. This area of the country is prone to illegal deforestation, especially in rosewood. The area is also prone to wildfires and as a result, this has led to the scarcity of fresh drinking water. According to Global Forest Watch reports, in 2010, Foni Kansala District has 29.9ha of tree cover, extending over 0.21% of its land area. In 2009, it lost 75.0mha of tree cover, equivalent to 23.0t of CO2 of emissions. In Foni Kansala District, the peak fire season typically begins in mid-February and lasts around 12 weeks. All these factors have made life harder for the indigenous tribes that live within the district especially when it comes to clean drinking water. Notably, the district is dominated by the Jola tribe and a handful of Mandinka and Fula tribes.
The district, along with other districts bordering Southern Senegal, has played host to thousands of refugees fleeing the Southern Senegalese region of Casamance’s crisis which saw fighting between Senegalese forces and Cassamance separatist rebels. This has had serious difficulties both economic and social affecting the district, among which is the scarcity of clean drinking water. Environmental issues are still persistent due to illegal logging causing mass deforestation within the district.
The first phase of this project has been successfully completed thanks to Water Charity and its local partner Working Water The Gambia (WWG). This is part of a series of projects launched under the Water for Everyone Initiative. The project mission was to improve water access and sanitation conditions across 5 villages in Foni Kansala District by rehabilitating handpumps, installing new ones where necessary, and providing hand washing stations to improve sanitation and hygiene in the communities of BAJONKOTO VILLAGE, BUJIGA VILLAGE, GIBAGARI VILLAGE, JONYER VILLAGE and KAPPA VILLAGE. Thanks to the collaborative support of the villagers in all these villages, the project was completed successfully. This project provides access to clean water and sanitation to over 3,000 people
The project saw the successful dewatering, re-digging of wells, installation of new German Mark 2 cylinders and conversion heads, stainless steel pipes, rod couplings, check nuts, pedestals, axles and bearings. Concrete water troughs were built, new culverts for wells and concrete slabs. Handwashing stations were installed in all project intervention communities supplied with detergents. In partnership with The Gambia’s Department of Water Resources, quality testing, and treatment was also conducted at the end of each community project. In each community, learning sessions were held on effective handwashing techniques and simple water management strategies. Communities also participated in manual works like digging and collecting sand and gravel. They also hosted workers, which assured that all materials were secured.
OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT
- The primary objective of this project is to provide clean drinking water and better sanitation for the people of the selected 5 villages in Foni Kansala District as for the first phase of the project. This has been successfully achieved at the completion of the project.
- The Foni region has long suffered from the lack of clean drinking water. The region has been hit hard with the mass felling of trees and frequent bushfires. Also, the conflict between Senegalese forces and separatist rebels in the southern Senegalese region of Cassamance has made things worse for the region of Foni as it shares a long border with Cassamance. The mass movement of refugees from the recent clashes has worsened the water crisis for communities hosting the refugees. One of the objectives of the project is to ease the pressure of the lack of clean drinking water in communities, as well as provide sanitation.
- One of the objectives of this project is to provide clean drinking water for marginalized vulnerable communities. Foni has a lot of isolated villages that feel abandoned and forgotten. This project has made them feel heard, socially included, and a part of humanity. For villages that lie closely on the borderline, most of the times felt abandoned due to fear as they are closer to the frontline.
- The project also empowers women and girls. We all know the burden women and girls bear in water collection. Statistics have shown that Foni is one of the lowest female enrolment rates in school. This clean water project will empower girls’ participation in school. The time spent on water collection is far shorter now for school-going girls.
- Another important objective of this project is to inculcate the habit of hand washing in communities. At each of the rehabilitated water sources in each community, a hand washing station is provided with detergents and also a learning session on the techniques of effective hand washing. Members of the community gather in the village square for the learning sessions. This is a tool to combat the spread of germs and other communicable diseases that could spread within communities, especially after using the toilets. It also aids nursing mothers as well as children to understand the importance of hygiene and sanitation. Participation in the learning sessions was high. Community engagement was immense and enthusiastic.
- In the Fonis, open defecation is not as big a concern as it is in the central regions of the country. Nonetheless, another key objective of these water projects is to facilitate round-the-clock household access to water. This will steer people away from going outside to defecate. The availability of water in the households is a catalyst towards the cessation of open defecation.
- Another objective of these projects is to encourage women’s engagement in household-level horticulture gardening. Every rehabilitated water source includes a concrete watering trough. The water trough traps wastewater from the hand pump and can be used by nearby houses for small-scale household horticulture vegetable gardening. This avoids the wastage of water and allows households to grow vegetables and enables their livestock to drink. This helps provide the households with a balanced diet and thereby alleviates the extreme poverty communities face, especially in the dry season.
- Another key objective of this project is to cut down the high rate of water-related illnesses in the recipient communities. Children often face the brunt when it comes to waterborne diseases. Certain households are drained of all resources when a family is struck with waterborne diseases. These water projects will lessen the burden on communities and money that would otherwise be spent on doctors or medicine can be used for food or for girls’ education instead.
- Setting up and training village water management committees was another objective of the project. We set up and trained water management committees in all the project communities. They help in the day-to-day management and maintenance of the water source. This will help make the project sustainable. As best practice, we ensure the committee is gender-balanced and that women have a say in the maintenance and management of the water source. Traditional women communicators known as ‘’Kanyeleng’’ are also involved in the sensitization of communities for better water management.
The excitement and happiness are overwhelming in all the communities. Heads of villages of the respective 5 villages all expressed their sincere thanks for the project and happiness, highlighting the positive impact that these clean water projects have in their lives., the local councilor of the district Suwaibou Gibba, heaped praises on and thanks to Water Charity. He also mentioned the social and economic importance of the water projects, as well as the tremendous importance of clean drinking water for the communities, especially in relation to the provision of education and increased well-being. He also mentioned the importance and timeliness of the project given communities have experienced an influx of refugees from the Cassamance crisis. We are extremely happy about this water project; our joy is overflowing said Arafang Badjie of Jonyer Village, Lack of water in the community has deprived us of normal living. Thanks to these projects in our district, we can now live comfortably.
Saffie Gibba and Musukebba Sanneh, both women’s group leaders said these water projects have come at a better time when they are faced with lots of challenges, especially the refugee crisis. Water is the foundation of humanity they said. Kebba Manka, a representative of the traditional chief Ali Nyassi, expressed his thanks of gratitude for the water projects. He urged for peace, brotherhood, and tranquility now that there is ample clean drinking water flowing in the 5 communities. Let us unite and encourage peace in our settlements he said.
Thanks to the donors for making this project a success.