Odupoi Alabara is the head of his household and the father of five children. At 30 years old, it is his responsibility to keep his family healthy, and his land tended. Living in the town of Ruvu Remit in the drought-prone Manyara region of north-west Tanzania, this is not always easy. In fact, for several months every year when the land is driest, it is almost impossible.
"I can’t even sell my cattle in these months because the price is so low," says Odupoi. ‘"We live on tea, sometimes milk, and porridge – but even that we cannot have every day. Beans, meat, and vegetables are very rare."
Last August, WFP, in collaboration with the Simanjiro District Authorities and World Vision Tanzania, began providing villagers in Ruvu Remit maize, beans and oil in return for work digging irrigation canals off a nearby river. The river was previously used for cooking and cleaning and water flow to farmers’ fields was irregular and costly. With the digging of the new irrigation system, an extra 200 acres of land in the region now receives a regular water supply.
Odupoi received two bags of maize, 60kg of beans, and 10kg of oil for his work on the canals. Not only did this food feed his family for months, but the saved income meant he was able to rent a half-acre of irrigated land for his own production. He now grows and sells onions. "Onions are good income, so with the money I earn I can buy more maize for my family," he said. "We feel alot more secure now."
"The food we received and the land I have rented has meant I do not have to sell my cattle," Odupoi added. "It has meant that I can feed my children and support my family. My children now want to go to school – if they didn’t have the food in the morning they wouldn’t have the energy. They can go to school and I can work. These canals have changed our lives."