Rebuilding Casamance, A Win-Win
As the number of people affected by conflict grows worldwide, the need to address mass displacement also grows. Last month our CEO traveled to Senegal to visit sites where our team has worked since 2012. During this time, community members shared firsthand stories about how SFL’s partnership with the US Government’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) had brought peace back into the region, allowing them to return home.
The Casamance region of Senegal has suffered substantial internal conflict over the years, forcing hundreds of families to flee. Attempts to return home were often countered by continued conflict. As Bourama Gajigor, one of the residents of Casamance (pictured above) shared, “We came back home and tried to rebuild our homes but every time we started to rebuild, one rebel or another would show up and burn all we had.”
SFL has helped to rebuild a sense of safety and peace in these communities by clearing land mines, constructing farm to market network roads, generating short-term employment opportunities for community members, and is now rebuilding traditional shelters. “When the road was completed, we came back and realized that the road had also brought peace with it.” Bourama continued, “Some families that had some resources started rebuilding their homes along the road. Roads also made it possible to work on the farm. Additionally, it gave people the peace of mind that the landmines were cleared”.
By 2017, SFL had completed over 130 kilometers of road, 116 kilometers of drainage systems and 125 homes, assisting displaced communities to return home and providing hope and opportunity for the future. These projects are important examples of the investment the people and the Government of the United States have made, and continue to make, in assisting displaced populations, rebuilding market foundations, and connecting communities. As a result, refugee communities are able to return home and have the harvests of their farms reach American markets; a win-win for all.