October 2, 2012 by Esther Kuhn /Topics: CIDA, Community Development, Esther Kuhn, Gender Justice
The sun is shining on a very wet Dakar, the capital of Senegal. It has been a few days since it last rained but while farmers in the countryside eagerly await the short rainy season, the streets of Dakar are regularly flooded. Most years this primarily hits the suburbs, built on the swampy land that was left when the main city filled the peninsula.

This year, walls and trees have collapsed in a diverse range of neighborhoods causing between 10 and 15 casualties. For the first time in Senegal, there is a large television and radio campaign asking for donations to help alleviate the situation. Images of people wading through the streets while accompanied by “talking heads” remind me of fundraisers elsewhere in the world. People can donate by text message or with cash at a number of locations in the city. Organizations like churches, mosques, and schools have set up their own collection points so they can add this to the main fund as a group. Work on roads and sewers is already under way in many neighborhoods. 

EELS, one of our three partners in Senegal, works in a suburb of Dakar that is often hit by floods, but this year the area has largely been spared. Coursework for the Adolescent Health Programme will begin again soon in this suburb, so the search has begun for new peer educators to join the team as the program expands. The new educators will be trained in enrolling participants, who are all illiterate adolescent girls, and working with neighborhood councils to guide the program and introduce it to the community. The new educators also teach twice-weekly workshops on reproductive health, communication in the family, and self-esteem. Combatting stigmatization and discrimination with compassion and community development is at the heart of this program.

Our second partner, CECS, works in a growing number of towns and villages. CECS helps communities set up local health committees that are engaged in education and improving access to health care for community members. This year CECS will start an adolescent health programme (much like the EELS’s) in several Senegalese towns. Together we are working hard to strengthen the local committees, find peer educators, and support the CECS board in their new responsibilities. This expansion of activities was made possible by CIDA, the Canadian International Development Agency. By soliciting grants like this one, World Renew is able to multiply the funds entrusted to us by our supporters so we can achieve more with more communities. Beer Sheba is our third and latest partner. We are working together with Beer Sheba on an experimental farm to train local farmers in applying new, sustainable farming techniques. Currently, we support part of their internship program and their Fourneau Jambaar (the Jambaar Stove) program. This second program involves selling improved cooking stoves at local markets and through women’s savings groups. These stoves require much less wood or charcoal to cook the same amount of food. You too can help these farmers by purchasing one of these stoves from our gift catalog at www.worldrenewgifts.net.

So here we are, on the westernmost tip of the African continent. Senegal is a beautiful country with many people working very hard to feed their families, strengthen their communities, and so renew their society. I feel privileged that World Renew and our Senegalese partners have invited me to work here, and I’m looking forward to updating on the work that is being done.

Esther Kühn

Program Consultant
World Renew - Senegal 

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