Here are some highlights of what we have been able to accomplish together over the past decade.
Our agriculture initiative works with locally-established women's cooperative to make the desert come to life. By partnering with Senegalese contractors using appropriate technology, we install solar-powered pumps that irrigate community gardens serving local women and their families. After our initial investment, these gardens are run, managed, and maintained by local women, with assistance from local agriculture technicians. We currently have 15 gardens operating, serving nearly 2,000 women and their families across several communities. This important program not only provides these women an income-generating opportunity through the sale of produce, but also gives them and their families vital nutritive options throughout the year in an area afflicted with great food insecurity.
In keeping with the idea of investing in the health of the whole school, our education initiative seeks to improve many facets of the schools we partner with. This means significant infrastructural upgrades, building sanitary latrines for the students to use, establishing sources for fresh water, installing classroom libraries, and providing a nutritious breakfast for every student at school. These programs have translated into increased attendance, higher test scores, a jump in community and parental involvement, and other immeasurable advancements such as an increase in a community's pride in the school and a stronger hope for the future.
Health & Sanitation
Over the past few years, we have worked with community leaders, healthcare workers, and the Senegalese Ministry of Health to build several health posts in rural areas that would otherwise have very limited access to healthcare. Living in remote, rural areas that are often inaccessible by road, many of the villages we partner with had to previously travel several kilometers to receive care. Now, the moderately-trained local staff has the capacity to see dozens of patients every day for routine care, consultations, and minor emergency cases. In addition, these health posts will be fully equipped to manage labor and delivery (in most cases), as well as hosting vaccination clinics.
With very little access to capital, how can an entrepreneurial woman in rural Senegal start or grow her business? For the last 15 years, part of our efforts are directed toward economic assistance, allowing those in Senegal a chance to have access to capital in the form of microloans. These small, no-interest cash loans (between $50-$150) are used by the recipient to start a small business or otherwise actively pursue the opportunity to turn this small amount into something larger. It can be used to start a small store (like the one above), invest in animal husbandry, make and sell soap, help a farmer plant his fields, or myriad other things. With no access to capital or credit, these small loans can have a huge impact, and they are almost always fully repaid with a paid back rate of around 97%.
Training & Workshops
At Andando, we don't just want to give handouts, but truly a hand-up. By walking together with those we partner with, we aim to affirm dignity, build hope, and empower others on the path toward real, sustainable change. This means continually holding workshops, using locally-available experts to equip villagers to help themselves in the areas of new agricultural techniques, small business training, health and sanitation, and basic reading and writing skills.