If his horse has plenty of carts to pull, Chadian farmer Bernard Bangoussou is a happy man.
Bountiful loads of maize and sorghum mean hunger won't stalk his family in the months to come and that medical care and school fees can be paid for.
Having such security is something relatively new for Bernard, who lives in the Pala City Department of Mayo-Dallah in southern Chad. Chad is ranked 184th out of 187 on the Human Development Index and 61 per cent of the population live on less than US$1.25 a day.
In Pala, climatic conditions are tough for plants and people alike and almost everyone relies on the land to make a living.
Poverty is a fact of life for many but Tearfund partner CECADEC is showing communities that conditions do not have to dictate their lives.
By teaching people new farming techniques, such as how to create compost and preserve moisture in the soil, crop production has increased.
Bernard has seen the benefits: ‘For a long time I didn’t know modern farming techniques. My crops were never enough to feed my family throughout the year. The months of July and August were the most difficult for us.’
Applying CECADEC’s training in 2013 to his 3.5 hectares has transformed the family’s fortunes, says Bernard. ‘My crops are improved about three times. For example at the end of the 2013-2014 season, I harvested three carts of sorghum (equivalent to 12 bags, each 100 kg). This season I got eight and a half carts (32 bags).’
He’s also harvested rice for the first time, collecting 560 kg.
‘Now my family has enough food to eat throughout the year. We sell a part of our crops to meet other basic needs such as buying clothes, paying for schooling and medical care.’
Unlocking the potential of the land has done the same for the potential of the family. Bernard’s wife has started her own small business and they’ve also bought oxen, goats, sheep and chickens, which they are breeding.
‘My next plan is to build a solid house with durable materials. I thank God for choosing me to benefit from CECADEC training.’
The rise in the family’s standard of living has knock-on benefits for the wider community.
Bernard now not only pays contributions to his village association but is sharing CECADEC’s teaching with other farmers.
Situated in the heart of Africa, oil-producing Chad is a vast landlocked country that’s about five times the size of the UK.
More than half of Chad is desert and having enough food is a permanent challenge for the population which consists of 133 ethnic and linguistic groups.
Violence has plagued Chad since independence from France in 1960. The government in the capital N’Djamena has faced recurring coup attempts and armed insurgencies and has never been able to control the entire country.
The main needs of Chadians are enough food, clean water and sanitation, as well as education – particularly among women. Tackling HIV and environmental sustainability are also priorities.
As part of Tearfund’s overall vision, we aim to mobilise 3,000 local churches and communities to transform life for 1 million people in Chad, physically, materially, socially and spiritually.
Currently, Tearfund works with eight partner organisations in Chad, strengthening the capacity of local churches to meet the needs of their communities. Together we’re:
- improving food production and management of natural resources
- providing educational materials to improve literacy
- working with churches to reduce HIV stigma
- reducing waterborne diseases through conducting health and hygiene education and establishing sanitation facilities