In Kemkaga, in the south of Chad, the day begins early in the morning for woman farmer Marceline Guemngaye. While her six children are still sleeping, she prepares breakfast. Today, the children are lucky. There is porridge and tea. “It’s never sure if there will be enough food for everyone in the morning, though” Marceline sighs. Some days there is only tea in the morning. While it is still dark, Marceline, her two daughters and four sons eat their breakfast sititng on the floor of their wooden hut. “Sometimes breakfast remains the only meal of the day,” Marceline explains.
There is not much time to eat; work in the field is calling already. Marceline and her children need to work hard, even if they are hungry in the morning. Without knowing when they will next get something to eat, they set off for the field with spades, hoes and shovels. The family cultivates their field with cereals, vegetables and fruits. Marceline harvests a part of it to feed herself and her family. She sells the rest to make some money.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner: A utopia
Besides selling her own produce, there is hardly any way for Marceline to earn money, pay for her children’s schooling or medical expenses. That is why Marceline’s children cannot go to school and have to help out in the field.
This is the life of many families in Chad. For women in particular, it is a huge challenge to prepare enough food for the whole family every day.
In remote areas like Kemkaga, which is about 30 kilometers from the capital Koumra, people have neither enough food nor money go buy food at the local market to feed the family adequately. The journey to the capital is long, and many women are unable to make the arduous journey. Thus, the women can rarely prepare three meals a day. Many people in Chad suffer from hunger. “We eat irregularly – sometimes in the morning, at noon or in the evening,” Marceline explains.
Hunger leads to social tensions
In addition to the climatic conditions and extreme phenomena – drought, heat, but also short heavy rains and floods – there are other difficulties for people in rural Chad. “Due to permanent insecurity, the situation within the family and with neighbors is often tense,” says Marceline. Since the responsibility of feeding the family falls on the women and they prepare the food, the frustration in the family often also falls on them when there is little, if anything, to eat.
Many farmers keep livestock for their own use and for sale in addition to their field work. Like the people, this also suffers greatly from the climatic conditions and from hunger. “Often, cows ravage fields. Lacking food options, they look for fodder in neighboring fields and eat away the harvest there. This leads to sometimes violent conflicts and strife between farming families. The economic damage is fatal. Marceline says: “We are not compensated for the loss of the harvest.
Better care for the family thanks to agroecology
SWISSAID supports women like Marceline. . “Thanks to SWISSAID, I have been trained in agroecology and have received the necessary machinery and seeds,” explains Marceline. CELIAF (Cellule de Liaison et d’Information des Associations Féminines), in collaboration with SWISSAID, particularly supports women in Mandul province. Like Marceline, many other women in the village are affiliated with a women’s organization that belongs to CELIAL.
“Thanks to SWISSAID’s support, we manage to provide better for the family. Our production of cereals, vegetables, fruits has improved, we earn more money and are thus able to provide schooling for the children as well as medical care for the family,” says Marceline.
Become part of the solution
“But the support is not so great,” the farmer continues. “This is why I’m campaigning for us to get a cart so that we can cover the distance of 10 kilometers between home and field more easily.
In addition, with a cart, we can reach the health center in the capital city of Koumra more easily and quickly, in case someone from the village needs medical help. And the biggest hope of the farmer Marceline: “Thanks to the cart we could also transport agricultural products much easier”.
In the meantime, night has fallen in Kemkaga. Marceline and her children are tired and quickly fall asleep after a busy day. The next day is already waiting for them just a few hours away. Maybe the good news will come soon and the family will get a cart…
We are all part of the solution!
Climate crisis, pandemic, hunger: we are convinced that the great challenges of this time can only be tackled together. We are all part of the solution: the smallholder farmer in Chad, the donor in Switzerland, the politician in Bern. SWISSAID puts the various parts together. So that the vision of a world without hunger becomes reality. Piece by piece.