Little Things Make a Big Difference for Bolivian Farmers
Dionisia Choque is a Quechua-speaking farmer who lives in Tinguipaya, Bolivia. Her entire life Dionisia and her family have grown potatoes, and until recently that is what her family ate, potatoes and some meat. In fact, that is what almost everyone in her community has cultivated and eaten for decades. Some would say Tinguipaya has the cards stacked against it: 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. A marker of this is the infant mortality rate which reaches 152 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
For Dionisia and her husband Plácido all of this means they have been unable to grow lucrative crops for sale. And this means it is hard to make ends meet, including buying their children school supplies. It also means they have been unable to grow or purchase healthy food for the family.
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 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.
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 the nearest big city, something she never did before. Today, Dionisia reports that selling onions she earns more money now she ever has. "Everything I earn goes to my children," tells Dionisia, "school supplies, recreation fees, cooking oil" and she buys important food like yogurt, and sometimes milk, for the kids.
In addition, with LWR's support of Fundación Arado has encouraged Plácido, Dionisia and other farmers to grow a diversity of crops for consumption. They even offer cooking and nutrition classes to men and women, teaching them how to prepare the vegetables they grow. Today, in addition to potatoes and meat, Dionisia and her kids eat veggie patties, carrot juice, yogurt, and quinoa hamburgers! Many other families are eating similar foods and one parent reports, "Our kids eat better now, grow stronger and don't get sick."
All signs point to improved food security for the community and improved health for children there. The local school teacher tells LWR staff that this means kids are paying more attention in school and able to learn and retain information with greater ease!
A water tank, a tap, and a homemade sprinkler: just little things, but they have made a big difference in Tinguipaya!