Time is money – and that goes for Chad too

Lots of work to do and not enough to eat, off the radar of policymakers and exposed to all possible forms of violence – that is the reality of day-to-day life for many female farmers in Chad. SWISSAID makes living conditions discernibly better for them with selective ’startup aid’ at favourable rates.

The cliché about people lying around idly in  the shadow of the baobab tree is well and  truly refuted in southern Chad. You don’t see  women there – they are slaving away to feed  their families, to enable their children to go to school or to pay for medical treatment. To make  their lives easier, SWISSAID helps them save  time and energy. The most efficient way of  doing this is by constructing a well close to the  village. This means that women and girls have  to spend between two and eight hours less a  day fetching water from the river or standing in  queues at the water hole which makes it possible for girls to attend school regularly. The  women have more time to cultivate more land  or find other ways to generate an income.  

Livestock helping people

The draught oxen which SWISSAID buys for the  women’s groups not only save the women time  and spare them from hardship; they also enable  them to carry out work which they would not  have been able to cope with without the  animals. An ox-drawn cart is used to transport  clay to the pottery, and the finished jugs are  transported to the sales stand. Organic material  is transported to the compost heap, and the  composted soil is spread on the fields. It is  ploughed, and the harvest is brought in at a later  date or carted to the market. Whenever the  women are not using the useful animal  themselves, they lease it out, boosting their  income considerably. They use that money to  pay the farmhand who looks after large animals,  because that is men’s work.  

SWISSAID has also supplied modest start-up  capital for the ‘Tontines’, the credit and savings  associations for the women’s groups. With  more time at their disposal, the loans allow the  women to invest in lucrative small-scale  businesses, such as selling bread rolls, sweets  or drinks. The modest additional income they  generate this way enables them to repay their  loans and interest. The interest is used as  starting capital for the credit fund, which means  that over time larger amounts can be loaned.  Sometimes, there is even enough money left  over for an investment from the group finances:  for example, for the construction of a shed in  which the women perhaps can attend literacy  classes away from rain and dust, also thanks to  the time they no longer have to spend working  elsewhere.  

More important than money: respect and  solidarity  

The women have their own money, manage  their own organisation, and are able to read and  write. But that is by no means all: the cooperation  nurtures solidarity, which is much more valuable  than all the project resources, because it builds  their self-confidence and gains them the respect  of the men and of the village community.  

  • Project number: TS 02/14/01
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Beneficiaries: 3469 people, of which 97% are women
  • Costs: 86'533.- Swiss francs