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  • Writer's pictureJane Smith

03/21NFI NL:Virtual Trip

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

Covering: +++ 931 million tonnes of food waste every year +++

virtual trip to Senegal and the Gambia – a review +++

Direct link to view included video

Virtual trip to Senegal and the Gambia – a review Getting to know other countries and cultures and sharing experiences, making friends, forgetting one's everyday life for a few days and being open to new ideas. This is the focus of the international Naturefriends trips, which have been organised for many years in cooperation with Naturefriends in Senegal, the Gambia and Togo, and which set impulses for sustainable tourism development in the travel countries. Due to Corona, this year this was not possible in the usual form – like so many other things. So, we rethought our travels and implemented a visit to the Landscape of the Year in the border region of Senegal and the Gambia in virtual form – according to the motto: The real adventures are in your mind. This was not a fully adequate substitute for a real trip, but it was an opportunity to get to know the two countries and to gain an insight into their culture, all without the need for climate-impacting flights. 113 people travelled together virtually from 20 January to 3 February 2021 – informed about the current stage of the journey by our daily travel newsletter and in exchange with each other and with our African partners via our tourism_LOG. And many other interested people followed the journey via social media.

An exciting topic that was addressed several times during the trip was the situation of women in the region. For example, a visit to the "Women's Initiative the Gambia" in Njaw, which sets initiatives for sustainable development, or to the "Women of Kamb", a Senegalese village in the "Forest of Mbao", where 22 committed women produce fruit and vegetables for the local market, was on the agenda. Our tour guide Ingeborg Pint speaks for many of the participants with her contribution to the online discussion: "Nice to see these strong women again! And good that Naturefriends in Senegal and the Gambia are consistently committed to encouraging and supporting women – through concrete projects, through initiatives in educational institutions, through visits with Naturefriends groups that give the women (but also the men) a feeling of appreciation and of meeting at eye level." Mamadou Mbodji, who coordinates and accompanies the Naturefriends trips to the region on site, provides information about projects for and with women, such as a workshop on the production of improved, energy-efficient cooking stoves, which also are an important contribution to climate protection. Women also play an important role in the fruit tree plantations that Naturefriends Senegal have been implementing in the Landscape of the Year together with the local population since 2018 with donations from the Naturefriends Climate Fund. It´s mainly the women who take care of the trees and later also harvest the fruits, as healthy food for their families, but also as a possibility to generate their own income by selling them. This way, they are strengthened in their importance for the families and the village community. At the end of the trip, many positive voices and words of thanks reached us. One participant wrote: "Thank you for this wonderful trip! It would certainly have been even more beautiful in real form, but also much more strenuous. Nevertheless, I would like to do it as soon as it will be possible to travel again." Several participants have already participated on previous trips to the region. One of them writes in our blog: "At the end of 2018, I had the opportunity to participate in real terms in the trip to Senegal and the Gambia. Many memories have come back, especially memories of the great people we had the chance to meet. ... Let's hope that European and African Naturefriends can meet again in the near future!" We are pleased that we received so much support for our initiative and that we were able to share positive images in the current difficult times – as one of the participants also put it: "Thank you very much for the effort that went into creating this travel report. It was a ray of hope every morning in these dark times." Despite all the beautiful impressions, the great poverty in the region is unfortunately also a very present topic: the rural population lives mostly from agriculture, but this is becoming increasingly difficult due to the consequences of climate change, such as crop failures because of droughts or also the advancing erosion of the soil. In addition, there is now also the Corona crisis, which is leading to an increase in poverty. One of the travellers sums it up like this: "In the joy about this beautiful, informative report, the thought of how great the economic, health and psychosocial damage there may be and will still be worries me. ... The urgently needed international solidarity to overcome the pandemic is in the end also a protection for us – but perhaps that is too complicated for many people." The fact that solidarity is possible, at least in small steps, is shown by many participants, some of whom donated very generous amounts for fruit tree plantations in the region they travelled through as a thank you for the virtual trip. The trees will be handed over to the care of families who will be able to harvest the fruit in a few years. In addition, the trees strengthen the soil and contribute to climate protection. In this way, we can contribute to improving the living situation and give our African friends a small ray of hope in these difficult times, too. In addition to the tree planting, several other Naturefriends activities are planned for the region in the future, such as a joint environmental education project for pupils from Senegal and the Gambia and – once the Corona pandemic will be overcome – international Naturefriends trips, which we are particularly looking forward to! More about the Landscape of the Year Senegal and Gambia: The individual stages of the trip can be read in our tourism_LOG. Donations for fruit tree plantations are still welcome! They will be processed via the Naturefriends Climate Fund with 100 % of the money transferred to concrete projects implemented by African Naturefriends organisations, that mitigate the consequences of climate change and contribute to more climate justice. Information on how to donate:

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