Displaced by the political crisis that followed the presidential election in 2010, 53-year old Madeleine from the village of Baoubly in the western part of Côte d’Ivoire never stopped worrying about the future – how to make a living once the emergency food assistance from WFP would run out.
Madeleine is a widower and the sole provider of a family of 7. When violence erupted in November 2010, she fled to the Catholic mission in Duékoué. When she returned to Baoubly, her belongings were gone and the plot she had farmed was “occupied”.
In search for a new livelihood, Madeleine teamed up with 35-year old Benjamin. Like Madeleine, Benjamin was also forced to flee the violence – he hid in the surrounding forests for months. Upon return, he found his house ransacked and destroyed.
Together, Madeleine and Benjamin teamed up to establish the association “Anouake” or “Try We’ll See” in English and set out by reclaiming land for a gardening project.
They approached WFP and partner organization IEDA Relief to be included in the “Food and Training for Assets” project. As a first step, Madeleine and Benjamin together with some 20 members of the association have followed a training programme providing them with more effective tools for modern vegetable gardening such as establishing irrigation systems, creation of mounds etc.
The results are already visible – eggplants, tomatoes and okra are sprouting. While the gardening project is yet not profitable, Madeleine says that everyone working on the plot is in high spirits because they know that eventually they will succeed.
“We know that we will be rewarded for our efforts. Earning a living with something new is tough, but we are not going to give up, we’ll try hard to make the gardening project become sustainable,” says Madeleine.
Further training for Madeleine and her colleagues has already been planned – WFP and IEDA Relief have pledged to support capacity building on functional literacy, accounting and marketing techniques.
Building resilience among returnees
In November 2012, WFP and partner organization IEDA Relief introduced the “Food and Training for Assets” designed to rebuild and promote self reliance. Activities include rehabilitation of rural dirt roads, building of shelters, creation of vegetable gardens, construction of sheds for school children among other things. All projects have been financed thanks to a US$ 3 million contribution from the Government of Japan.