Soroptimist International Europe: Transforming Lives in Kabekel Village, The Gambia

This World Environment Day, we are sharing examples of best practices from across our federations to educate and inspire.

Soroptimist International Europe has made a significant impact through its environmental and community development projects in Kabekel Village, The Gambia. This project, led by the Soroptimist Club of Silkeborg, Denmark, demonstrates the power of international cooperation in fostering sustainable development and improving the quality of life in small communities.

Watch SI Europe’s full presentation here.

Bridging Distances: From Denmark to The Gambia

Despite the geographical distance between Denmark and The Gambia, the Soroptimist Club of Silkeborg has been active in the region since 2010, undertaking numerous initiatives such as providing clean water and supporting education. The latest project in Kabekel Village began in 2015, focusing on improving water accessibility and hygiene, which was essential for the well-being of the village residents.

Community-Driven Clean Water Initiative

The project was initiated based on the needs expressed by the villagers, who highlighted the critical importance of clean water. The Soroptimist team installed a solar-powered pump system that supplies water to three large tanks, each holding 5000 litres. These tanks distribute water through 2.5 kilometres of pipelines to 64 compounds in the village. Each compound now has a dedicated water tap, significantly improving access to clean water for drinking and cooking.

Overcoming Challenges

The project’s implementation faced several challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a year-long delay and increased costs. The club managed to secure additional funding from ten Danish clubs and private sponsors to cover the increased budget of 14,500 euros. Effective collaboration with local contractors and continuous monitoring ensured the project’s success despite these setbacks.

Positive Impact on the Community

The clean water project has had a transformative effect on Kabekel Village. With reliable access to clean water, the health of the villagers improved, and the women began growing vegetables, leading to economic benefits. The surplus produce sold at local markets provided income for school supplies and improved the overall living conditions. The project also empowered women by enhancing their status in the community and increasing educational opportunities for girls.

Long-Term Sustainability

To ensure the project’s sustainability, the village established a system where each compound pays a monthly fee for maintenance. Additionally, the village decided to finance a generator to support the solar-powered pump at night, ensuring a continuous water supply.

Insights and Future Recommendations

The Soroptimist Club of Silkeborg emphasises the importance of understanding local cultures and working closely with local partners. They recommend starting with smaller projects to build trust and gradually expanding the scope. Detailed project planning, including timelines and action plans for implementation, monitoring, and evaluation, is crucial for success.

Celebrating Success

The project culminated in a celebration with the villagers, highlighting the improved living conditions and the strengthened community bonds. The success of this initiative underscores the effectiveness of Soroptimist International Europe’s collaborative efforts and the significant positive changes they can bring to communities in need.

Soroptimist International Europe continues to showcase the real power of cooperation and dedication in making a lasting impact on the world, one project at a time.



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