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"Before, we carried gourds on our heads to fetch water from the river, to get water by hand
Now we have a reservoir to water our garden. Before, we watered mornings and evenings, but now we water only one hour and it's all done, even if it's one single person watering. Solar energy saved us." Madame Ganigui Guera, president of the Women's Farming Collective in the village of Dunkassa, shared this first-hand account of the transformative power of solar energy at a conference in Oslo, Norway in 2011.
The village of Dunkassa is one of two villages in the Kalale district in northern Benin where SELF designed and installed three of its Solar Market Gardens (SMGs). The innovative solar-powered drip irrigation systems have been operating for five years to help overcome the region's six-month dry season by pumping water from an underground aquifer to irrigate fruit and vegetable crops.
In October 2011, Madame Guera ventured out of her homeland for the very first time to provide personal testimony about the positive impacts the SMGs have had on the lives of those living in Kalale. For herself and the other community members, they are benefitting from the gardens' high yield of fresh vegetables which are kept for consumption as well as sold at market, earning an extra $7.50 per week for the women farmers. The benefits of the gardens have forever changed these communities.
Through the generosity of CFC and other supporters, SELF can replicate this success in additional villages in Benin. The Solar Market Garden is a model for clean energy's value throughout the developing world.