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Drought response lags behind need in southern Angola
At a traditional homestead in Chiede commune, in southern Angola’s drought-stricken Cunene Province, four tired, dusty children rest in the shade of a thatched hut. They have just returned from a journey to fetch water that has taken them most of the morning; the task will have to be repeated in the afternoon if the family of 20 is to have a few litres of muddy brown water to cook, drink and wash with.
The well just outside the homestead dried up last October, and family members have been making the three-and-a-half-hour roundtrip to a newly dug well twice a day ever since.
“It’s the first time in my life I’ve known the ‘seca’ [drought] to be this bad,” said the children’s grandmother, Victoria Nditondino, 67.
The family was lucky to harvest about 50kg of millet from the land surrounding their homestead. About three-quarters of households in the area harvested nothing, according to Albertina Hilda Namafo, a volunteer with Development Aid from People to People (DAPP), an NGO that uses community health workers to educate the local population about health and sanitation practices.
“Generally, people have no food, but those who do share with others. They are making drinks from wild fruits and roots, and some are selling charcoal,” Namafo told IRIN.
HARVESTING FRESH FOOD ALL YEAR LONG IN A KITCHEN GARDEN WITH CONTAINERS (Willem Van Cotthem)
Instead of depending on wild fruits and roots, people in drought-affected regions could install their own family kitchen garden with recycled containers (bags, sacks, boxes, buckets, bottles, etc.).
Filling these containers with a mix of local dirt and animal manure offers a lot of possibilities to grow fresh food, full of vitamins and mineral elements. This makes container gardening a fantastic tool in the combat of child malnutrition and hunger.