OUR STORIES: JULY 2016
"With CARE I have won the fight against the drought'
By Adérito Bié, June 2016
Adélia Armando Mathélives lives alone with her three children in the village of Chideme in the South of Mozambique. The 41 year old is a farmer since she was a child and was always able to provide for herself. But last year the drought caused by El Nino made her fear for her and her children’s lives. It did not rain and the crops of maize, cowpeas and groundnuts were completely destroyed. Both of Adélia’s children are going to school. João, 11, is in 7th grade and Marta,15, attends the 9th grade. For the first time Adélia had to send them to school with empty stomachs, as they simply did not have anything to eat. The youngest daughter, Eulízia, was only five years old at that time. “I could only provide her with two meals every day, mostly consisting of wild fruits. I was so afraid that her physical and mental development may be badly affected. As a mother, I have never felt so much pain", says Adélia Mathé, with a tone of despair. The current drought in Southern Africa threatens the lives and livelihoods of around 40 million people. In Mozambique, almost 100,000 children are already acutely malnourished. Every second child in the country is chronically malnourished due to lack of food.
Adélia’s neighbor saw how much she suffered and invited her to attend a community meeting. That was where she found what she was looking for: a program that teaches practices and techniques such as conservation agriculture to improve the production even during long and severe droughts.
Adélia joined the group which is part of a “Farmer Field School" in the PROSAN program, which is funded by the Embassy of Ireland. She learnt improved agricultural techniques. "I learnt to plant several different crops in rows and use green manure. Before, I did not know that burning grass would harm the soil,” she says. She was also introduced to new crops such as lab-lab, canavalia and most importantly "mucuna", which is a plant that protects the soil from weeds. She also received new, drought-resistant seeds and tools such as hoes, axes and machetes.
In the past months, Adélia Mathé used her knowledge to replant her field. With a lot of hard work and dedication she managed to grow crops of cowpea and maize. "I feel that for now I have won the fight against the drought. It is not enough to last for the entire year of 2016, but at least I can feed my children for now and do not have to worry that hunger ruins their futures,” she says. She also makes sure to pass her knowledge on to them. Her village is proud of Adélia, who has become a role-model in a region which is hit strongly by the worst drought in the past 35 years. She is one of many farmers trained by CARE to bridge the gap until the next harvest and improve future ones.
"She helps us to put in practice what we were taught. We need to take care of our land and we now know other crops that we can use in times of drought. She always helps us and gives advice," says Marta Quilombo, who has recently joined the Farmer Field School, inspired by Adélia.
CARE is a member of the consortium COSACA composed of four humanitarian organisations. CARE, Concern, Oxfam and Save the Children support families most affected by the drought that is plaguing the country since last year.
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