The el Niño reports: Economic impact
Could you imagine trying to grow enough food to maintain a family in soil like this?
The devastating consequences of the worst el niño in 30 years are taking their toll on people’s livelihoods. Across Africa and Asia, little or no rainfall has left fields parched. Families that used to live off the land now find their savings empty and have to rely on donations in order to survive.
In Ethiopia, one of the African nations that is having the most severe droughts, 80 per cent of the population live in rural areas, which rely on rain-fed agriculture. Now, these families are going hungry and losing business. Kedija from the Oromia province told us: “I lost 6,000kgs of my usual harvest this year. I planted maize, but it died at knee height. Now I cannot afford seeds for the coming season.”
In order to provide for her child, Kedija now has to collect firewood from the mountains to sell to people and she also washes clothes for money. Kedija receives 15kg of food a month from a government and Plan International Ethiopia combined scheme, but she still struggles to afford school supplies, medicine for her sick husband and clothing for the family. Plan International is also helping the families most in need, like Kedija’s by distributing emergency seeds, “now I can grow haricot beans on a quarter of my land and I am so happy,” she says.
Further afield, in Timor Leste, farmers are also suffering from the scarcity of rain. Once lush, green rice paddies are now completely dry. One farmer tells us that what he used to live off and sell from his eight-hectare estate is no longer producing anything: “I had to sow maize, for the first time since 1979, instead of rice as the maize needs a lot less water to grow.”
Aside from giving struggling families food and seeds to tackle the food shortage, Plan International is also working with communities to assist them in saving schemes. In Zimbabwe, the Arise and Shine Village Savings and Lending group, through our support has helped people make the most of the little money they have left. One of the customers, Mrs Muchena, says: “We have been trained on micro-financing and savings. Before we couldn’t afford to send our children to school, now we have extra cash and can invest it or buy and sell goods to make a profit.”
Teaching parents how to survive once their livelihoods have been taken away from them can make the difference. Before, parents would have to go further afield for work, meaning that older children would stay at home instead of going to school, doing the household tasks.
Support our work and help us minimise the economic impact that el Niño has on families around the world.
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