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Female-headed households in drought challenge

MARGARET CHISANGA, Pemba
A meandering path in Pemba’s Lweendo village leads to a compound comprising 3 huts creating an oval shape around a shelter that saves as an outside kitchen.
In the shade provided by the shelter, seemingly oblivious to the smoke from the dying embers of firewood that must have been used to prepare the afternoon lunch, sits an old woman, Lucia Moono. Around the dying fire 3 black chickens scuttle off crumbs of nshima. Nearby, a dirty old pig slowly moves around in search of food from what is supposed to be the family dumpsite.
Born in 1940, Mrs Moono, sitting on a mat made out of four pieces of mealie meal sacks sewn together, can not recall a time when drought affected her village in the way it has done this year.
“We have always had enough maize for home use, as well as enough for planting in the next farming season, but this year will be different,” she says as she fiddles with a teddy bear whose colour has turned brown after being played with in the sand for too long. The sacks seem out of place in this environment and she laughs when asked about it.
“We now have to buy mealie meal in Pemba district, and so when it finishes I wash the sacks and sew them together to create a mat. You know we can no longer make our traditional mats because the reeds need water to grow tall, but our local stream has run dry since the rains stopped falling a long time ago,” she says. CLICK TO READ MORE

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