World Water Day: How women farmers can overcome drought

Eliza and her livestock in her drought-affected farmland in northern Tanzania

Today is World Water Day. CARE works in more than 50 countries to improve access to water for drinking, hygiene, farming, and income generation.

In Northern Tanzania – where many of the people we work with depend on their farms for their family’s food – the increasingly unreliable rainfall and frequent drought means growing crops is a challenge.

And when there’s a shortage of water, it’s people living in poverty who suffer most.

Eliza with livestock on her farm in Tanzania

Eliza Msangi (above) lives in a small house in Bangalala village, Tanzania, with her four children and her grandchildren. She’s a farmer but like many others in her village, the lack of rain in recent years has meant it’s getting harder and harder to earn a living – or even to harvest enough to feed her family. In fact, she often has to rely on her adult son to find food for the family: 

I have got real problems, so much. It is a problem; we get nothing to eat and we have no water. I depend on my child. If he goes and gets luck to get some food, we eat; and if he does not, we starve.

However, Eliza says that if she had access to water to irrigate her crops, she could grow not just maize but other crops such as cabbage and tomatoes. Just being able to grow vegetables in her garden would make a huge difference.

Donate now to help give Eliza access to water for farming

Rehema breaking stones in her yard

Rehema Msafiri (above) lives in a small house in Makanya village and has lived here for many years. She has four children with the youngest, Salha, only 4 years old. She says:

The drought has affected me a lot because income is low.

Her primary income is as a farmer but when she’s unable to grow any produce, she spends her days cracking rocks into stones. She often spends five hours a day, sitting outside on the ground, cracking a rock into stones using a rudimentary hammer. For this hard work, she receives 7,000 to 8,000 Tanzanian Shillings, about £2.50.

One of the main issues along with the drought is access to water. Rehema believes that a lot of water is wasted but if water channels were fixed, things would be better.

Donate now to help give Rehema access to water for farming

Your donation to our Help Her Live, Learn and Earn campaign could help CARE to set up a project to train and support small-scale farmers in northern Tanzania (70% of them women) to grow more food, using less water.

Venice, a woman farmer in Tanzania

Venice Youze (above), who lives in Kasapo village in northern Tanzania, has already received training from CARE in climate-smart agriculture. She says:

The lack of rain affects me to a large extent and since I depend on farming, it means if there is no water, then I cannot fill the tank with water, and if the tank lacks water, I cannot plant in my garden. So when it does not rain, you won’t have crops in the garden.

As well as learning farming techniques to make maximum use of the available water, Venice was taught how to better collect rain water using iron sheets and by creating water tanks. She now has a water tank in her garden that she uses to water her home garden. Because of the training, she’s able to harvest far more from her farm and her home garden.

CARE’s new project – which will be set up thanks to donations to our Help Her Live, Learn and Earn campaign – could help many more women like Venice, and so help transform the lives of thousands of people in the region.

Help Her Live Learn and Earn and UK aid match logos

donate now

From now until 22 April 2018, every pound you give to the Help Her Live, Learn and Earn campaign will be doubled by the UK government – with the UK Aid Match funds going directly to a new project that will help farmers in Tanzania break the cycle of poverty.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.