Increasing Resilience: Fatuma's Story

Increasing Resilience: Fatuma's Story


Alebachew Adem Nurye of CARE Ethiopia writes: 

Fatuma Muhaba, 39, is a widow with four children, none of whom attend school. Her village in northeastern Ethiopia was among many devastated by El Niño in 2015. Many animals died, and her neighbors were forced to migrate to faraway places in search of food, water and livelihoods. “I have seen so many changes and new incidents in my life,” Fatuma said, “but I have never seen a time like that season.” She tells her story here.

AMIBARA DISTRICT, ETHIOPIA – Drought is occurring more frequently. The sun is becoming hot, the days drier and the winds more intense and destructive. My farm crops wilted,  our rivers dried up and our plastic ponds emptied.

Once, we were rich families. But drought inflicted damage on my livestock and crops, and reduced the productivity and value of my herds. As a result, milk was not sufficient for the family. In the past, a young cow used to conceive at age 3 and give birth to calves frequently. Now, cows grow to 4 or 5 years old before giving birth, due to lack of fodder. They do not give us as much milk as we require. Even if they do give birth to calves, they can’t feed them, let alone provide extra milk for us. In addition, the aroma, taste, color and thickness of milk has changed and become poor in quality. This is the result of climate change and reduced supply of pasture and water resources in our areas.

Our life is tied to our livestock. When the cattle are fat, we get fat; when they are emaciated, we get scared. Because of the unbearable conditions, I thought I would have to abandon my village in search of jobs in Awash town. But the people from CARE came to rescue me and my four kids. I received training on farming and farm management. I got support to buy farm tools and climate-resilient seeds. I also received training in food preparation, including on dietary diversity, child feeding and cooking.

With technical, financial and moral support from CARE, I started growing maize and sorghum, which helped improve my kids’ nutrition status. Before, I used to feed them milk and bread only. I also began planting papaya and mangoes trees. Now I am able to sell some of my produce to buy vegetables for my children.

Drought and heat will always be a challenge here. Last harvest season, all my crops wilted and I was forced to feed them to my cows. I learned that the problem was I had not chosen the most drought-tolerant variety of seeds, which mature in only two months, even under stressful rain conditions. This year, I received seeds from CARE’s emergency response program and began planting the improved seed varieties and integrating crops with fruit trees.

My vision is to see my kids well-fed, educated and smiling. God willing, I hope to achieve that.

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