A new beginning

When drought kills your livestock or floods wipe out your business, how do you put food on the table for your children? This was the situation faced by Elisabeth and Mary. Thanks to the support we've received through our Ending Poverty Starts with Women campaign, hope is on the horizon.

Meet Mary

A life can change in the blink of an eye. Mary Atabo and her family went from being comfortably-off nomadic farmers and shopkeepers with a thriving small business to relying on food aid and the sale of charcoal to feed themselves. All because of the vagaries of the weather: first a drought claimed 90 of their 100 goats and then flash flooding destroyed their shop.

Almost one million people in Turkana, Northern Kenya, eke out a living in semi-arid conditions. But the proud people who call Turkana home are determined not to give in. They are adapting their traditional ways to cope with drought or floods – whatever the unpredictable climate throws their way.

TOP: Thanks to your donations, Mary Atabo (centre) and her family are rebuilding their lives following a devastating drought and flooding. ABOVE LEFT: Nanyiti Alkaram is one of the women who is planting vegetables using the tools, seeds and other support you provide. ABOVE RIGHT: Children in Katiko village can eat more nutritious food grown in the vegetable gardens. All photos by Alejandro Chaskielberg/Oxfam

Mary and her family are not giving up. They face a new beginning; a difficult one but one with hope for better days at the end of it.

And Oxfam is there with them; and others throughout Turkana. In Katiko village, children have more nutritious food because of our work, supported by you.

Women like Nanyiti Alkaram are improving things by planting kitchen gardens using hoes, rakes, watering cans and seeds provided through your generosity.

Life in Turkana is tough. But it doesn’t mean it can’t change for the better.

Meet Elisabeth

When she was widowed, Elisabeth Ekatapan was left solely responsible for caring for her eight children in the village of Natoo in Turkana, Northern Kenya.

It’s an inhospitable place. Elisabeth grew up as a pastoralist, living off the livestock that she herded from one place to another to find water and grazing. But an increase in drought over the previous decade has forced her to look at other means of making a living.

“Animals are not sustainable anymore. When there is drought your animals die and you are left with nothing. If I could make one thing happen it would be to have my own business and earn money,” she says.

TOP: Like Elisabeth Ekatapan, John Ekono Ekiman, who lives near the village of Lomekui, lost animals during the drought. He has received camels and goats as part of our project helping farmers. John says: “I remember laughing when Oxfam gave me my camels – it was the happiest day of my life. I feel really proud of having them. In the future I want to expand and grow my camels and goats.” ABOVE: Widow Elisabeth Ekatapan now grows vegetables to feed her family thanks to your donations, which have funded a vegetable allotment project for 400 familes. All photos by Alejandro Chaskielberg/Oxfam

Everyone has the right to decent work, income and freedom from hunger. So we’re working with 400 families in three villages in Turkana (Riokomor, Karebur, and Nayenaeemeyan) to develop vegetable allotments. The gardening scheme has turned a desert landscape into a green oasis of hope.

Families working on the allotments received hoes, rakes, watering cans, fencing materials and seeds to plan. The plots of land are irrigated by small water points, either wells or hand pumps, located nearby.

Elisabeth and other mums caring for families can now grow vegetables to cook and sell. They are not reliant on the animals that can’t graze and drink because the rains don’t come. Women make up almost 90 per cent of those who work on the allotments.

Ending Poverty Starts With Women. Help us support women like Elisabeth today.

The perfect recipe

A staple food in many parts of the world, rice has been feeding mankind for more than 5,000 years. At two of our projects in Liberia, there’s bags and bags of the stuff.

ABOVE: Princess Dekar (13) carries rice home in the Zleh Town area of Grand Gedeh county. TOP: Beartrice Quayee transplants rice in River Gee county, Liberia. She is one of the people involved in our cash-for-work project, which provides an income in return for growing rice communally. The farmers tend to their own fields once the jobs are complete. All photos by Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

But this wasn’t always the case. Many local people were farming upland, often several hours’ walk from their homes. Others were growing rice in swamps, where it tends to thrive, but didn’t have proper access to water. Working alongside our partner Catalyst, farmers in two counties in the south east – Grand Gedeh and River Gee – have now found the perfect recipe for growing rice.

The ingredients:

  • Perfectly proportioned plots of uncultivated lowlands suitable for swamp farming
  • Lots of new dams and irrigation systems and the repair of existing ones
  • Expert training on how to manage swamp farms and use irrigation on fields
  • The right equipment for swamp farming: tools and clothing including a rake, shovel, hoe, file, rain coat, boots and gloves
  • Great dollops of support from people like you.

The final result: Lives transformed.

Lucy Tarlue (40), who lives in the Pouh Town area of Grand Gedeh, is eager to talk about the benefits of swamp farming. “I would explain to [my neighbours] that swamp farming is good. Swamp farming is profitable.”

TOP LEFT: Lucy Tarlue, who lives in Grand Gedeh county, produces enough rice to sell the surplus at the market. TOP RIGHT: Rice is ready for transplanting in a rice field. ABOVE: Lucy at her home. She says she would recommend swamp farming to her neighbours. All photos by Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

“I have five plots (2.5 acres). If I do the work on time, I can get 25 bags of rice from each plot (in one year from one harvest).”

This is 10 more bags than she could produce upland. Lucy sells her surplus rice at the market.

“I produce enough rice that we can eat some, I’m able to sell some and send my children to school. I sell the rice in the market.”

TOP LEFT: Maye Teh washes rice in River Gee county. New irrigation systems provided by Oxfam makes rice farming more sustainable. TOP RIGHT: A young boy stands along the muddy main road in Grand Gedeh county. ABOVE: Cash for work workers sing and dance as they hold their tools on their way to work in the rice fields in River Gee county. All photos by Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

Almost 870 million – more than the population of Europe, the United States and Canada combined – go to bed hungry every night in a world which produces enough for everyone to eat.

With your help, we can help people like Lucy to grow enough for her family to eat and also make a living.

To support to projects like the one in Liberia, please donate today. You’re the essential ingredient.

A child's message of hope

By Jim Clarken, Chief Executive

Letters from our supporters can bring a ray of sunshine to the often dreary Dublin and Belfast mornings. The generosity of the Irish public is inspiring.

The willingness of people to hand over money, clothes, books and other items in order to help people the other side of the world is an incredible testament to the sense of humanity that prevails in Ireland, even during our own economic problems. Recently, I arrived into the Oxfam offices to be greeted by this letter.

It was from three young boys, Dion, Louis and Oliver. The note left no contact details and no information about the boys themselves. But it left a message. A simple message. Dion, Louis and Oliver had made a gesture.

They had sold pictures and raised €65 for Oxfam. That €65 will be used to fund vital work. It will help to bring hope and a better future to people living on the other side of the world. Dion, Louis and Oliver will probably never meet those people.

But that doesn’t matter. Their generosity and goodwill will send a message. A message of hope. On behalf of the people we work with, thank you for your continued selfless support of others.

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