The mid-term review mission of the IFAD-financed Programme de Developpement Durable des Oasis (PDDO) in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania has just returned from the field. The PDDO covers 5 regions: Adrar, Tagant, Assaba, and the two Hodh. The mission was given security clearance for the Adrar and the Assaba where it was accompanied by very professional and friendly military escorts.
The mission visited 9 oases in the Adrar...and it was amazed over the potentials of farming vegetables, fruits and wheat in the desert! This is all thanks to the support which the PDDO is elaborating for small-scale irrigation and "farming under palm tree" techniques in partnership with the villagers of the different Oases. The green colour of the wheat was such a contrast to the aridity of the sandy soil below! In addition to wheat, farmers are producing various kinds of vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, gombo, etc.) and even fruit trees are planted in the oases, including lemon trees. Clearly, this has had an impact on the nutrition of the population as the villagers themselves confirmed to the mission.
The villagers welcomed the mission in their oases with their wonderful hospitality-some even took care of during the night where they set up their beautiful tents (haima). The mission thus had an incredible opportunity
to truly discuss with the villagers their feelings about the PDDO and the Oasis projects which preceded it. It was a pleasure to hear from the villagers themselves the important impact the Programme is having on their lives. But more than anything, it was amazing for the mission to see how women were involved in the discussions and truly speaking their minds.
In various instances the women said publicly how the most important impact of the PDDO and the previous Oasis II project is that 15 years ago, they did not have the courage to speak out or to take any decisions over the way the projects/programmes should be implemented. Through the project's literacy and information/education/communication campaigns and the quotas that the programme/projects have established for women in the various management committees, women have been able to better participate in the different project/programme economic activities, including farming. Today, they feel more comfortable to speak out in public and when they bring money home, their husbands are happy. Could this be the beginning of a new future for this young lady?