By Nelson Manneh
The women in Faraba-Sutu have recently abandoned their fertile wetlands due to intrusion of salt water into the swamplands (‘Faros’).
Faraba-Sutu is located in Kombo East District, West Coast Region of The Gambia.
The village is located along the Trans Gambia highway, south bank of The Gambia. It is less than one kilometre away from the tributary of the River Gambia and has more than five hectares of wetland land (Faros) that is used for rice cultivation.
Women in the community have over the past years faced a lot of challenges as salt water from the river flows into the ‘faros’ (rice farms) leaving their swamplands barren.
The wetlands are no more productive like they used to be. These women have abandoned their ‘faros’ as they lamented that they till the soil without any meaningful harvest.
Over the years, these hard working women who survive by the fruits of their labour have been experiencing a lot of challenges. The wetlands are no more productive.
Mr Alieu Sanyang the Alkalo of Faraba-Sutu said his community is known for agriculture, but for the past few years, their wetlands have been abandoned because they are no longer fertile and productive.
“There is a bridge that separates and stops water from the river entering the wetlands. The bridge is damaged; we sought support from individuals and stakeholders in order to re-construct it but to no avail. We came together as a community and locally constructed it, but it could not serve long and it got damaged again,” he said.
Alkalo Sanyang said the local bridge they constructed could not serve its purpose leading to the intrusion of salt water into the swamplands.
“It is true that the women have abandoned the area and the main reason is because the land is no longer fertile as it used to be,” he said.
The Alkalo said his people have now diverted their focus on the two community gardens they have in the area.
He said the only challenge the women are facing at their gardens is that there are no boreholes and the women continue to draw water from the wells within the gardens to water their vegetables.
“It is not easy at all; our mothers and wives continue to fetch water from wells to water their vegetables. The labour involved in this exercise is frustrating, we sought support from individuals in order for us to have boreholes within the gardens to ease the burden the women are facing,” he said.
Fatou Camara a native of Faraba-Sutu said there is no other source of income in Faraba-Sutu apart from rice cultivation and gardening.
“We depend on these two things but we have abandoned the wetlands because they are no longer productive. We are currently concentrating on our gardens,” she said.
Madam Camara said the only challenge they are facing in their gardens is the lack of boreholes and that they continue to fetch water from wells to water their vegetables.
“We are seeking support from philanthropists and government in order to do away with this burden,” she noted.
Ousman Kah a student at the University of the Gambia who is majoring Agriculture, said he has visited the said wetlands several times and has seen the damage caused by the salt intrusion.
“The whole area needs restoration because the lands are totally damaged. We need the government’s intervention because the area needs expertise to transform it,” he said.
In his quest to salvage the wetlands, the native of Faraba-Sutu said he has designed a project proposal, but he is yet to share it with institutions and individuals for support.
“The project will mainly focus on establishing a modern bridge, testing the soil and coming up with rehabilitation modalities to improve the fertility and productivity of the wetlands. It will also stretch to rejuvenating the soil productivity by testing the soil using modern agricultural expertise and transforming it to a productive land,” he said.
Mr Kah said the objectives of the project include: constructing standard bridges between the wetlands and the river, testing of the soil at the wetlands and coming up with modalities of improving its quality among others.
He said the project will be implemented by Faraba-Sutu Village Development Committee (VDC) in consultation with experts and the funding agencies. After its implementation, he added, a committee will be set-up to monitor the bridges and the wetlands to make sure they are maintained.
Faraba-Sutu Village Development Committee (VDC) is open to discussion with funding agencies, philanthropists and other partners in order to implement the project as proposed.