The village of Lobrosoit B in the Simanjiro region of north-west Tanzania is home to a small pastoralist community entirely dependent on the land for survival. In an area that is near-desert for up to eight months a year, a recent irrigation project carried out under Food for Assets (FFA) has transformed the dry and drought-prone terrain into productive agricultural land.
Through this project, the river running through the region was extended with 39 kms of canals. Some 275 family representatives received maize, beans and oil in return for digging work on the canals, which are now irrigating 500 acres of land around the village – an increase of 200 acres of productive land.
Such a help
"The food was such a help," says mother-of-eight Kadari Masaule who completed several days’ digging and received enough food to feed her family for weeks. "In the lean season, from July to February, it\s sometimes difficult to find any food at all. Receiving the food for digging meant I could feed my children without worrying."
Not only is food insecurity at its worst in those months but the land has little to no green pasture for grazing cattle.
"Milk becomes difficult to get and it is something we depend on every day," says Kadari.
The new canal system means the water source has been brought closer to peoples’ homes. The river had mainly been used for cooking and cleaning , forcing the villagers to spend the best part of each day collecting and carrying water. Now the water is easier to access and the river is being put to use for growing food.
"I've rented a plot of one acre and have already harvested six bags of maize,’ says Kadari. "I'm preparing the land for onions."
The digging finished in April of this year but the community is already planning how best to get the most out of the project. They have set up guidelines for management of the canal and are establishing a water usage committee to ensure the new irrigation system is used efficiently and effectively.
"My children went from one small bowl of porridge a day to regular meals," says Kadari. "We're healthier now. Already, we can see the huge difference these canals have made in the community."