We can proudly tell you that the solar dryers are finished! It took a little more time than expected since the fans and the wiring, that were shipped from the Netherlands, arrived much later than expected. Because The Gambia taught us to be flexible with our plans (so called Gambia Maybe Time), we could easily adapt ourselves to the fact that our shipment was delayed.
Of course, just building a solar dryer is not enough. So we tested it with a lot of different crops to see how it worked. We dried bananas, eggplant, onion, pepper, and other fruits and vegetables. Fortunately the solar dryer worked just as good as we expected, which we were excited about since we changed some of the materials. It was good to see how interested the villagers were about the solar dryer, especially the woman who work in the community garden. They were eager to see how it worked and came by to look while we were testing them. On our last day in Ndokey we wanted to make the villagers more acquainted with dried foods. That’s why we, together with the woman of the compound where the solar dryer was build, created a festive meal including dried eggplant and onion. We made one of the local dishes called Njang Katang, which is basically rice with crushed peanuts and dried fish. We added the dried eggplant and onion, along with some of the left-over vegetables and had a very tasty lunch with the whole family.
Besides testing, it is important to make some of the villagers responsible for maintaining the solar dryer. Last year in Jakaba, a committee was set up which was responsible for their solar dryer and who came up with some rules concerning the usage and maintain. After we took some people of Ndokey to Jakaba a few weeks ago, to see their solar dryer and meet the committee over there, it became clear that also the people of Ndokey thought a committee would be a great idea. They had set one up themselves during the building process. They also decided on some rules about cleaning and using the solar dryer, which were quite similar to the rules in Jakaba. This showed that they learned a lot from their excursion to Jakaba.
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and we had to say goodbye to the people of Ndokey. We took some pictures with them and the solar dryer and had a huge farewell from all the children. All in all, we are positive about our result and are confident that they will use their solar dryer for the time to come. Maybe one day we will come back!