The Kalalé District of Benin is a poor, dry region in the northern part of the country with approximately 100,000 people – none of whom have access to the electric grid. The economy is mainly based on agriculture, with more than 95 percent of the population dependent on farming. Despite its great potential, crop production in Kalalé remains weak and easily influenced by natural conditions, especially during the six-month dry season that runs from November through April each year.
During the dry season, the land of Kalalé is parched and its people are hungry. Women in rural Benin watch helplessly as food sources dwindled and children go hungry. Since the arrival of The Solar Electric Fund (SELF), women now move water from wells to gardens, using solar power and drip irrigation, creating gardens year round. With SELF’s help, for the first time, women farmers in the rural villages of Bessassi and Dunkassa in northern Benin are able to grow vegetables and fruits during the six-month dry season, improving food security and nutrition for themselves and their families. Farmers are also increasing their income by selling excess crops in the market. Now entering its third year, SELF’s Solar Market Garden project has proven that solar energy can provide long term solutions to hunger, malnutrition and poverty in developing nations.