In the swamps of Sierra Leone, rural women plant seeds of peace

In the swamps of Sierra Leone, rural women plant seeds of peace

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Bunds and canals now make it viable to hold fertilizer and water to plant vegetation several instances a year. WFP/Richard Mbouet
Large mineral deposits are a ancient source of hysteria among farming communities and miners, specifically in the rural south. But a set of ladies have grow to be ambassadors for peace.

30 November 2021, Lydia Wamala

The mid-mornings of Matagelema village, inside the south of Sierra Leone’s Moyamba district, frequently discover the local ladies ankle-deep inner large rice fields. If they may be now not planting, they’re weeding their crops; or constructing and repairing bunds and canals that the World Food Programme WFP and Government are helping them to set up easy irrigation schemes with the intention to boost their yields.

Mamie Achion, the coordinator of the organization, says: We have been forced to abandon our preliminary farms due to warfare with miners. They have been mining inside the very place we cultivated, thereby lowering our farming space. About one hundred fifty folks girls decided to shape Manumuma Women’s Farmers’ Association in 2020 and establish ourselves here in Matagelema.

She adds: There isn’t any greater commotion now. We come together and agree on how to distribute our tasks and how many days and hours in per week to paintings under WFP’s peacebuilding programme. Most of the group individuals are widows or unmarried mums, and nearly absolutely everyone enhance our very own as well as spouse and children children … We are determined to succeed so that we will feed our families.

Matagelema is situated about 1km faraway from a rural buying and selling centre called Moriba, which owes its lifestyles to the mining enterprise. Staff buses belonging to a massive mining corporation crisscross the location all day; at night, floodlights silhouette a processing plant.

Sierra Leone has the biggest deposits of rutile inside the global the mineral is used in the production of ceramics, paint, plastics or even food products that require a vibrant white shade. Moyamba district is a main supply of the rutile in addition to bauxite.

Sierra Leone is also clearly endowed with inland valley swamps, a high-potential surroundings that, used successfully, can provide agricultural yields that bring about meals self-sufficiency. But due to restricted technical know-how and the labour intensity required to broaden irrigations structures, most swamps have been abandoned. Farmers typically depend upon shifting, upland agriculture, characterized with the aid of low yields and environmental damage.

WFP is working with groups consisting of Mamie’s in six districts and 113 communities. More than 4,000 generally women farmers are taking advantage of its cash-primarily based peacebuilding programme, to create and hold irrigation schemes on 890 hectares of inland valley swamps.

WFP’s paintings includes supporting a Government initiative to construct non violent relationships between private businesses and groups.

When there’s no meals, people get agitated and conflicts emerge, says Swalihu Jusu, who oversees the venture on the Government’s behalf.

Such tensions may want to enhance due to competition for land. Communities have been also bothered by means of the huge ponds frequently left in the back of and the land degradation associated with mining, especially in the Moyamba and Pujehun districts, which host massive mining and palm oil concessions.

The success of Mamie ’s affiliation started out whilst the a hundred and fifty women spoke back in January 2020 to a name from the city leader inviting human beings to shape a farmers group. The chief introduced that the Government became available to support businesses of farmers, not individuals, in cultivating opportunity areas far from the miners.

In their first meeting, the ladies agreed to contribute five,000 Leones or roughly US$zero.50 each to have the organization registered with the National Farmers’ Federation. In the meeting that accompanied, they agreed to make contributions an additional 10,000 Leones every to buy seeds and fertilizers to domesticate 10 hectares of swamps that the institution itself had secured in Matagelema.

However, the ladies did not realise a massive rice harvest as they lacked stepped forward, quick-yielding seeds.

We are anticipating a huge harvest this time around due to the fact we discovered a way to plant efficaciously. We are using excessive-yielding seeds and the bunds and canals now make it viable to retain fertilizer and water for us to plant plants numerous instances in a year, says Mamie.

Even earlier than their first harvest, the assignment’s benefits are being felt, not least in the home of Mamie Feika, who’s raising 5 children. Each time she gets her proportion of the cash, which WFP will pay according to hobby completed, she buys delicacies for the kids and may manage to pay for schoolbooks and uniforms for the older ones.

WFP’s assistance empowers girls and teenagers with the competencies, assets and means to develop greater nutritious meals using climate-smart methods that nurture the environment and build long-term resilience. Part of the programme is applied jointly with the UN Development Programme, underneath the UN Peacebuilding Fund; the opposite element is funded by means of the Japanese authorities.