Carmela and her husband Palacio stand in front of their home in the community of El Estribo awaiting the arrival of the fourth WFP food distribution. (Copyright: WFP/Julio Verdun)
For Carmela Roa and her family, WFP food means bringing back life after heavy floods in the Paraguayan Chaco. The food arrived in a precise moment when all of their reserves had perished with the water. The food has given them strength to survive and, for now, vitality to continue the recuperation stage.
“Ore salva koava viveres,” that is how Carmela Roa, 48 years old, starts her account in the Guarani language in the village of Dos Palmas in the community of El Estribo. Carmela refers to the word food because it arrived just in time. "This is the fourth time we receive food from the WFP. Before we didn’t have anything to eat, and now we eat twice a day. We take good care of our food because it gives us strength to work and recover, it is giving us back life,” she says.
Carmela lives with her husband Palacio, 57 years old, and with their three children, in addition to the wife of her eldest son and their 1-year old grandchild. In total, seven people share a single room in their shack.
Palacio, also Guarani, comments that during the flooding they lost everything and stayed isolated during four months, but it was recently that the road was reopened. "The support with food is allowing us to survive during these harsh months,” he notes. He says the food is giving him the strength to plant again staple foods such as cassava, pumpkin, and sesame. Palacio hope harvest sesame as early as February 2013 and sell it in the local town to generate some income. Meanwhile cassava and pumpkin will be used for household consumption.
The Challenge Ahead
Carmela, Palacio and their community believe that the most difficult times after the floods are behind, and step by step the affected families will recover their livelihoods. However, this Guarani community thinks that greatest challenge ahead is to reduce its vulnerability to future natural disasters. Meanwhile they will still need humanitarian assistance until their next harvest in early 2013.
Julio has been a WFP Field Monitor in Bolivia since 2001. In 1994, he began working for the Government of Bolivia in projects where the UN World Food Programme was the main counterpart. Julio is currently on mission in Paraguay to support the emergency operation in El Chaco.