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Dionisa Choque looks at her family's garden.

Dionisa Choque looks at her family's garden, where she now grows onions, carrots and lettuce. She is able to sell the crops and her family now earns more than they ever have before.

| Return to the July 25, 2012 issue of eNews |

Just Add Water

By Annalise Romoser

Some would say the municipality of Tinguipaya, Bolivia has the cards stacked against it: people depend on agriculture to make a living but the soil there is poor, the town is isolated from important cities and markets, and the town’s poverty rate is one of the highest in the state.

For Dionisa Choque, a farmer living in Tinguipaya, this crippling poverty had a direct impact on her family’s health. Like most of her community, Dionisia and her family have grown potatoes for decades. Until recently, potatoes made up the majority of her family’s daily diet, with some meat here and there.

Because of the poor soil and a lack of water, Dionisia and her husband Plácido were unable to grow any lucrative crops for sale. As a result, it was hard to afford healthy food for their family. And things like school supplies for the children were nearly impossible.

But recently something happened for Dionisia. In fact, three things happened. They were just little things, but they made a big difference.

First, the municipal government installed a water tank and water tap near the couple’s home. This is the first time they’ve ever had running water near their house and gardens.

Secondly, LWR partnered with the Fundación Arado to teach Dionisia and Plácido about sprinkler systems that would allow them to better irrigate their crops.

Sprinkler system.

Plácido Choque made this sprinkler for about $0.50.

The third, and maybe the most important little thing to happen, is that they went ahead and made themselves a sprinkler — a very little sprinkler in fact. Plácido reports that he spent about 50 cents on a hose and then used an old plastic medicine bottle as a sprinkler head. A small investment, but it made a big difference.

Today, with a better watering system, Dionisia is able to grow onions, carrots and lettuce in her garden plots. She sells the onions in Potosí, the nearest big city, something she never did before.

Dionisia and her family now earn more than they ever have before. “Everything I earn goes to my children,” Dionisia says. With her money she buys school supplies and cooking oil. Now she’s able to provide her children with healthy food like yogurt, and sometimes milk.

As part of the local LWR project, Plácido, Dionisia and other farmers have also been learning the merit in growing a diversity of crops for consumption. And through cooking and nutrition classes, they have learned how to prepare the vegetables they grow. 

Today, in addition to potatoes and meat, Dionisia and her kids eat veggie patties, yogurt, and quinoa hamburgers and drink carrot juice!

Bolivian Child eating a mix of yogurt, banana and bean flour.

The children in Tinguipaya, Bolivia have a new favorite dish! Thanks to cooking and nutrition classes, her family prepares healthy food like this mix of yogurt, banana and bean flour.

With better food security — access to available, appropriate and nutritious foods — the future looks bright for this community. The local school teacher tells LWR staff that kids are paying more attention in school and are learning better. Another parent reports, “Our kids eat better now, grow stronger and don’t get sick.”

With the support of people like you, three small things made such a big difference to this community. The ability to access water to grow better crops and education on how to include those crops in family meals means healthier, more promising futures for the people of Tinguipaya.

Annalise Romoser is LWR’s Field Communications Officer for Latin America.

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