Providing Opportunities to Restore Lives
The Baconding-Bindada road in Senegal is bordered by four abandoned villages that were abandoned in 1981 due to sustained conflict in the Casamance region. After an attempt to return in 1991, most of the population left again to take refuge in Goudomp, Ziguinchor or another nearby country. Many of the people in these villages subsisted largely from agriculture and livestock farming, including cashew nuts, mangos, rice, oranges, cows, pigs, and goat farms.
One of the villages, Bindaba 2, was abandoned by the community for more than thirty years. This is where we met Nafi Diogou, next to her abandoned house. Nafi tells us that she left her home village in 1997 with her four children and her husband to take refuge in Goudomp. With tears in her eyes, she tells us that she lost both her husband and two children due to illness.
Nafi used to grow bananas, peanuts, onions and maize, which provided her with a sufficient income. In Goudomp, she lived with the last of her sons in a house built by her children. Nafi shared that she plans to return to live in her abandoned house to be closer to her cashew field (which is more than one hectare) and her garden that she is weeding and preparing for planting.
Nafi’s decision to return home is based largely on the construction of the road by Shelter For Life and the return of security and peace to the area. Nafi informed us that these motivations are also driving others to return, indicating that people who were displaced are ready to move back to their community. The Bindaba 2 community is not the only one planning to return home. According to the Deputy Mayor Thomas of Djibanar, families from the nearby villages of Djilikin, Badja, and Bindaba 3, are also interested in returning.
SFL’s work in rehabilitating agricultural feeder roads is part of our LIFFT-Cashew project, made possible with funding from the USDA/FAS Food for Progress program. While our newly rehabilitated feeder roads in the Casamance have assisted local cashew farmers to transport and sell products, it has also encouraged families to return home. For women like Nafi, who want to re-establish their lives and begin working on their land again, this means greater access to markets and a chance to start over.