The overall impacts and effects of the project for the people can be seen in many places, where they are talked about spontaneously and unanimously: improved food security, diversified economic activities, rising incomes, less isolation for the region, protection and regeneration of the ecosystem, strengthened community dynamic, and more.
Those involved particularly appreciate the relevance and originality of the project, with its participatory approach and synergy implemented at the regional level, in addition to the catalysing effect of the works on agricultural production and mobility. Real prospects for development are opening up in multiple locations with these new works.
Emergence of development clusters around scheme sites
The experience of PAPIL has shown that, thanks to the mobilisation of water, redeveloped sites rapidly become development clusters giving rise to many activities initiated by local people: rice cultivation, market gardening, fishing, stock-breeding, bee-keeping, etc.
Regeneration of the natural environment (recovery of salinized land, raising of water tables, natural revegetation of surroundings, return of wild birds, development of ecosystems, etc.) due to the retention of fresh water and use of an integrated approach across the different valleys is also a very specific interest in environmental terms.
By the end of the project, PAPIL will have enabled construction of 58 salt-exclusion schemes, the recovery of 6,983 hectares of salinized land and the protection of 11,500 hectares of land from salt-water intrusion, said the Senegalese Agriculture Minister, Abdoulaye Baldé, responding in the National Assembly to a question from a parliamentarian on the salinization of cultivable land.
The 223 basic socio-economic infrastructure projects completed consist of health centres, schoolrooms, water infrastructure, harvesting and post-harvest equipment and storage facilities. In terms of capacity-building, 11,000 farmers have been trained.
Implementation of PAPIL has led to the emergence of development clusters around scheme sites, giving rise to new economic activities. It has also been accompanied by sustainable and concerted management of natural resources and agricultural, forestry and pasture lands, also taking account of the effects of climate change.
Implementation of local development fund activities created within the project has also contributed to meeting the essential needs of the population in terms of access to basic social services and relief of tasks often allotted to women.
Small-scale irrigation, an appropriate response to combat poverty
In light of the positive results of the PAPIL project, the development of small-scale irrigation at the local level seems an appropriate response to combat poverty. Strategic reflection, begun with regard to recovering run-off and drawing on the experience of PAPIL, should in time lead to the development of a national programme covering every region of the country.
PAPIL is winning other battles in the southeast corner of Senegal
Located in the extreme southeast of Senegal, the region of Kédougou extends over 16,896 square kilometres and has a population of some 152,134 (2013 figure). The demographic structure reveals a preponderance of men (53%, versus 47% women). As in the rest of the country, the population is young: those aged under 20 account for more than half the population. In terms of ethnicities, the most represented groups are the Fula and the Mandingo peoples (Malinke and Jakhanke). Other, so-called minority ethnic groups are also present, mainly formed of Bassari, Bedick and Koniagui people.
Half of this population is concentrated in the Department of Kédougou, which accounts for some 36% of the surface area of the region, which has three Departments. After this, in order of population density, come the Departments of Saraya (36% of the total population of Kédougou on 52% of its land area) and Salémata (14% on 12% of the land area of the region).
An agricultural sector with high potential
The agricultural sector, so important for the region’s food security and identity, is at the heart of the regional economy. Indeed, with its major irrigation resources, Kédougou remains an agricultural area. It enjoys abundant rainfall, with an annual average of 1,200 mm, and a dense drainage network consisting of two permanent watercourses, the Gambia and the Falémé rivers, and hundreds of rivers and ponds. It has abundant fertile but poorly exploited land.
According to the 2013 census, agriculture is the occupation of 69% of households. Maize, rice, sorghum, fonio, peanut and cotton are grown there. Cereal production grew in 2013, 2014 and 2015, increasing from 14,962 to 27,801 tonnes, particularly thanks to agricultural programmes and projects. Maize remains the main crop, accounting for 68% of cereal production (18,810 tonnes harvested in 2012-2013).
Thanks to PAPIL, rice planting, which increased from 300 hectares in 2010 to 1,600 ha in 2014 and 1,850 ha in 2015, produced 900 tonnes in 2010 and 5,100 tonnes in 2014. A further 6,500 tonnes of paddy rice were harvested in 2015 with an estimated commercial value of at least 950 million CFA francs.
On top of this strong rice production that is well appreciated by the region’s stakeholders (producers, authorities and partners), there is market gardening production. Production per product ranges from 742 kilograms for tomatoes to 6,535 kg for onions. It was Itato, a project pilot site on the banks of the River Gambia, that registered the biggest vegetable production marketed: 21,688 kg in 2013-2014 from a cultivated surface area of 3 hectares. The commercial value of this production varies from 408,100 CFA francs for tomatoes to 6,426 million CFA francs for cabbage and up to 3,606 million CFA francs for aubergines. Total vegetable revenues reached 21,187,950 CFA francs in 2013-2014.
This significant rice and vegetable production, with performance that is appreciated by producers, was facilitated through achievements that contribute to improving the food security of beneficiary populations, their incomes and the movement of goods and services; and to lightening the domestic work of women and better mobilising water for agricultural and pastoral purposes. Among these achievements, 471 hectares have been developed, including 440 ha of rice-producing lowlands and 30 ha of market gardens; 21 agricultural machines have been introduced (tractors, harvesters, threshers, cereal mills); and 9 water retention works.
More than significant achievements
The populations of villages benefiting from managed sites have been able to measure the impact of PAPIL. The project has particularly contributed to significantly increasing the potential of cultivable land, which has increased in area to 4,000 hectares in 2011, compared to 241 hectares in 2003; to increasing rice yields to 3 to 6 tonnes per hectare (t/ha), compared with 1 t/ha in 2003; to developing rice production to 21,370 tonnes in 2015, compared to 15,750 tonnes in 2011 and 810 tonnes in 2007. The project has also contributed to developing vegetable production with 7,427 tonnes harvested in 2015, compared to 4,650 tonnes in 2011 and 460 tonnes in 2007; and to achieving self-sufficiency in rice for a period of 6 to 8 months. As a result of the project, more than 7,000 farmers have seen their incomes increase by over 50 per cent.
From 2013 to 2015, 27 salt protection projects were built to recover 2,950 hectares and to protect another 4,425 hectares against the advance of salt water deeply intruding into river beds. Building low-cost, small water-control structures with considerable economic and social impact has enabled three cropping seasons a year in some places.