In a stilted wooden home, perched on the outskirts of a farming village in Cambodia’s North East, Setha Ki sits on the floor of wooden planks, and nods enthusiastically as she discusses her vegetable garden.
For Setha, a 56-year-old widow, mother of three and grandmother, growing enough food for her family to eat and to earn an income is a struggle. A struggle complicated by the fact that the region she lives in experiences regular drought, making farming a very uncertain business.
CARE has partnered with Setha’s village to help the community improve their farming practices and produce a larger, more diverse and more reliable supply of food. Setha explains, ‘CARE provided me with technical skills on rice and vegetable plantation and also on raising livestock.’
The knowledge and skills Setha has gained has made all the difference for the family’s finances. Setha says, ‘It helped my family a lot because we followed the technical advice provided to plant vegetables.’
It has been so successful that Setha has been able to grow enough vegetables at home that she no longer needs to spend money buying vegetables at the market. She says, ‘The money I used to spend on vegetables I now spend on my children and sending my grandson to school.
In developing countries it is often women who shoulder the responsibility of food production, in fact women account for 60 to 80 per cent of food production in developing countries, yet often miss out on important agricultural services such as training. That’s why CARE’s programs focus on empowering women like Setha. Through her productive vegetable garden she now has spare income to fund vital schooling costs, helping Setha break the cycle of poverty for her family.
Challenges remain for Setha however. In addition to the vegetable garden, her family also have a rice field, but the closest water source, which is 100 metres away, is often empty due to drought. Setha explains, ‘I have to walk 500 metres to another pond [to get water] and it takes half an hour to go there and back.’ With multiple trips required Setha can spend up to two hours per day collecting water for her rice crops.
CARE is also working with Setha’s village to improve access to water. In the region CARE has introduced ponds and wells and helped establish community water user groups that are trained to create and maintain community water supplies.
Setha is optimistic about her future; she hopes that a new pond can be built soon so she can improve her rice crop. With her determination, new knowledge on agriculture and hard work, Setha is lifting herself and her community out of poverty.