Bolivia: The Pot is Full and the Garden Blooming
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Published on 11 June 2014

Guaraní women of the Yacuiba municipality, in Tarija, are cultivating vegetables in a communal garden. This helps them endure the droughts that have become more frequent and severe. For their work, these women receive vouchers, which they exchange for food at local supermarkets. Copyright: WFP/Ximena Loza.

Close to 800 families in 18 Guaraní communities in the municipality of Yacuiba are overcoming a severe drought which has caused food insecurity throughout the indigenous communities. Through “Food for Assets” , and  “Vouchers for Work”, programmes, a WFP emergency operation in Bolivia's El Chaco region managed to rehabilitate livelihoods , ensure food safety and prevent the massive migration of 10,000 families. The families of indigenous municipalities and farmers who depend on their livestock and crops were affected by climate change.

Under a gray winter sky, the usual 40 degree temperature in El Chaco has dropped to less than half and it is now beginning to cause pain in the bones because of the moisture. In the Guaraní communities of the municipality of Yaguacua, or Cueva del Tigre in Spanish, women from all around are travelling towards the voucher distribution points to receive the incentive that allows them to feed their families and to produce food in a community garden that will have permanent irrigation even when rain is scarce. For this purpose, just over a hectare of land was ceded by the Assembly of the Guaraní People (APG) for women to cultivate; WFP Regional Counterpart in El Chaco, the Tarija's Regional Sub-Governmental Office gave seeds and an elastic water tank; and WFP provided technical assistance, nutrition education, and “Vouchers for Work” so that Guaraní women could restore their livelihoods after a decaying drought that withered this region and with it took the entire production which is livelihoods and main source of income of the Guaraní people.

A Garden to Care For
When asked about the benefits of participating in "Vouchers for Work", Mrs. Joaquina Loayza responds “Now the pot is full and our garden is blooming, “ without hesitation. “Receiving food stamps first and then vouchers helped us endure," tells this Indigenous woman while also mentioning that they were about to leave their land and search for work just as the men in the community had done before. “But women stayed here with their children and the elderly, living with just the basics and then WFP came to help us get back on our feet,” she said. Gradually, men from the communities are returning from afar, where they were forced to go to work.

The community garden is indeed blooming. Much of the produce is ready to be harvested. "We will have more food in our pots and more food to sell," said Maria Rosario Grande, President of the Public Works Committee in Yaguacua. With the help of some men, and by being on the lookout for snakes and serpents, these women took out the trees, cleared the bushes, prepared the grounds, fenced the garden, and planted potatoes and a variety of vegetables. They also built a platform with dirt, rocks, and logs to install the water tank, a rubber container of 200 thousand litres of water which the government is responsible for the consistent replenishment of it, to ensure irrigation of the garden. To take advantage of their food production, many of these women participated in cooking and nutrition classes.

"Even if we no longer receive vouchers," said the president, "we will continue producing vegetables and potatoes in the garden and continue to sustain it because it has to thrive for the community.”

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About the author

Ximena Loza

Public Information Officer

Ximena Loza has been a Public In