Tambacounda is one of Senegal’s hottest regions where temperatures can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius in summer. Following a social diagnosis that showed the population’s pressing need for access to clean water and ice, Sheikh Aly N’Daw set up the ‘OPeace’ water project in March 2019, addressing these needs and offering viable solutions.

Sheikh Aly explained the situation as this:

“Tambacounda is an extremely hot and under-developed region. Its population is in great need of cold water and ice to cope with temperatures as high as 45 – 50 degrees Celsius. The few people who had the facilities to produce home-made ice readily availed of the situation, in response to the law of supply and demand. 

The demand for ice far exceeded the supply, especially during the fasting month of Ramadan which saw growing numbers of orders being placed for ice. Prices spiked from 100 FCFA to 400 – 500 FCFA. However, the population had no other choice than to pay these high prices, as ice is an absolute necessity in the heat.

Through the social diagnosis that we made, we found that everybody was talking about this extreme situation as they were all affected. Even those who have refrigerators still encounter problems due to frequent power cuts during the day. Sometimes, the extreme heat slows down the refrigeration process and it takes 2-3 days to produce ice, instead of 1 day on cooler days.” 

The Solution

Sheikh Aly and his committed disciples realised that they needed to think of a quality product that was available to all, in line with the EcoPeace motto and model of ‘Quality for All’. They came up with the idea of small packs of ice made from purified water to be sold for 25FCFA – a price that even school children could afford. 

People in Tambacounda were used to paying a price range starting from 100FCFA which went up to 400-500 FCFA in the summer – so for some, seeing such a quality product available at such an affordable price was quite remarkable. 

Before OPeace, some of the local people who had refrigerators would buy sachets to fill with tap water in order to create ice packs to sell at 25 FCFA. Since OPeace has been operating in the area, this practice has stopped and in turn, those same people now buy OPeace water sachets to freeze at home and sell to children in their local area.

Through OPeace, people with low incomes can now afford purified water and ice and all students in the local schools now have access to pure water.

The initiative has progressed rapidly since its inception in March 2019, thanks to the acquisition of special ice-making equipment that reduces the time to produce blocks of ice – weighing up to 10kg – from 24 hours to 3 hours. This will allow increased production of ice to meet the needs of a much wider population in the neighbouring localities of Tambacounda.

EcoPeace, the social business operating the OPeace project, plans to extend the concept and reach out to neighbouring countries such as Mali, Mauritania, Gambia, Guinea and Guinea- Bissau, proposing this alternative model which offers quality for all.