The R4 Rural Resilience Initiative aims to help the rural poor protect their crops and livelihoods from the impacts of climate variability and change, including drought. In Kouthiacoto Ndéné, in the region of Tambacounda in eastern Senegal, WFP and its partners have launched a pilot phase of the R4 project.
Kouthiacoto Ndéné, Senegal -- Diari Dème is busy in her millet and rice field, working under a blazing sun. The 46-year-old knows that her efforts are critical to ensuring she has enough food for her 13 children. And now, thanks to the R4 pilot project, she can expect this hard work to pay dividends.
Before the R4 project began in this village, Dème had no easy access to water for her crops, and so her yields were low. The pilot project involved building dykes in the villages, so that water is now available in this area throughout the year. Another element of the pilot involved building compost pits to provide fertilizer for farmers.
"Before R4, it was difficult for us to get good harvests because we did not have access to water and we even had to buy fertilizer. Now with the compost pits, which are part of the project, the fertilizer is free. Access to water for crops is also facilitated through the dykes in our villages," she said.
"Today, what I produce provides food for my family. Before, I only grew millet. Now with the dams , I can grow rice and diversify my crops. This makes my family happy. As you know, part of our harvest is for our own consumption. The crops we do not sell are carefully kept in storage for the lean season. I can now use money I used to spend on food to pay for medical care for my family or to support my children in their schooling," she said.
The R4 Rural Resilience Initiative is a strategic collaboration between WFP and Oxfam America, and it is supported by the United States Agency for International Development and Swiss Re.
In Senegal, the project aims to enable poor farmers to strengthen their food and income security by managing risks through a four-part approach – improving natural resource management (community risk reduction), accessing microcredit (“prudent” risk-taking), gaining insurance coverage (risk transfer), and increasing savings (risk reserves).
Saving for Change
The R4 project in Kouthiacoto Ndéné also involves a component known as Saving for Change (SfC). Groups of farmers come together and pool money that can then be disbursed when needed through a traditional tontine, or a kind of raffle. Each member of the group contributes between 50 and 100 CFA francs (10 – 20 US cents) every week and loans can be granted to members out of this kitty. The loans are then paid back with interest.
Abdou is a baker in the village of Kouthiacoto. His SfC group gave him a loan, which allowed him produce more bread, and earn more money.
"With 2.5 kilos of flour, I just managed to produce 7 kg of bread. Thanks to our SfC group in the village, I got a loan and increased my daily use of flour to 5 kg. I earn more now and I plan to use my profits to boost my production more and meet other needs. Before the SfC group was created, we did not think about saving money but now it has become routine and it helps us a lot."