Isaura Luis and her family lost all their crops due to drought in Tete province at the end of last year. They were among the large numbers of smallholder farmers who suffered crop loss across Mozambique and who have had to rely on food assistance since then. With the rainy season now started, they and other families are hoping for more luck this time around.
Isaura Luis, her husband, and their two children live in a semi-arid district called Marara. They were not a typically food insecure household. They were not facing hunger until the end of last year when their crops were ruined by drought.
Of the six provinces hit by drought in the second half of 2015, Tete has had the highest number of people affected. A recent assessment conducted by the National Secretariat of Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN), carried out in late July, reported that 1.4 million people are in need of assistance in the country, and Tete accounts for 22 percent of them.
With no alternative work, Isaura (22) signed up to WFP’s Food For Assets (FFA) programme. It assists food-insecure families while providing opportunities for work paid in food, cash or vouchers.
In partnership with the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), small-holder farmers’ association ACEAGRARIOS, local authorities and community leaders, WFP identified people in need of assistance. Priority was given to female-headed households, disabled people, elderly people and households containing chronically ill members and orphans.
“I’m working in the seed multiplication field’’, says Isaura. “I’m looking after the irrigation so the plants will germinate. The plants will then be distributed to the schools and for the people in the community.”
Seed multiplication is part of a larger government initiative started in 2010. Known as ‘One Pupil, One Seedling, One Community Leader, One Forest’, the scheme is designed to create community forests countrywide. Under this scheme, each pupil plants at least one tree per year in a school garden or in their backyard at home.
Isaura’s husband, a smallholder farmer, takes care of their children when she is irrigating seedlings by the weir over the Cachembe River in neighbouring Cachembe village. Isaura works also in the ACEAGRARIOS farm beside the Cachembe River.
The food assistance she receives means that Isaura and her family do not have to migrate in search of work. It also means they don’t have to sell household assets to get money for food.
By the end of this year, WFP expects to have assisted nearly half a million people through Food for Assets and general food distribution programmes supported by contributions from Australia, Japan and the United States.