In The Gambia, where 57% of the population live on less than 2 dollars per day, a poor farming season is a major setback for families trying to break free from the shackles of poverty. As a mother of 7 children, Nuimi Fatti is no different.
Each year, Nuimi and her husband farm watermelon, millet and rice.
She meticulously describes the financial investment they made into field preparation last year and the anxiety she felt when each crop failed. After a mild harvest a few years back, Nuimi began planting rice by the nearest river to supplement their food.
She explains how the rice fields have been completely destroyed by hippos this year, making their food situation increasingly desperate. ‘‘Last year, the rice we harvested in the fields near the river lasted four months, this year it barely lasted a day’’. The community doesn’t have the resources to protect the fields.
Without income from the harvest, Nuimi is resorting to selling off her livestock so she can continue to feed the family.
‘‘Since January, I have been selling one animal per week. Now I am left with one last sheep’’ she says, ‘‘when this sheep is finally sold, our fate is left to God’’.
The livestock market prices continue to fall as farmers like Nuimi resort to this coping strategy.
As Nuimi spoke, a dark cloud swept over the drab landscape. Minutes later, a gentle shower wet the faces of children peering into the clouds.
In a country where rain does not fall for 9 months out of the year, these raindrops in the middle of the dry season are a reminder of the erratic weather patterns witnessed across the world. They do not bring solace to the farmers.
All photos: ActionAid