I have had a chance to drive across Tanzania - the largest country in East Africa - on the Trans African Caravan of Hope. The journey from Dar es Salaam to the border crossing Tanzania-Malawi is 1600km. Before Dar es Salaam the Caravan had covered 2300km so far rom Bujumbura, Burundi.
We are travelling in a convoy of three large busses, collecting signatures for our petition from people along the route to Durban, meeting government officials and picking new climate activists up in each country. So far we have Burundians, Ugandans, Kenyans, Tanzanian on Board. All of them are dedicated to tell the rest of the world and in particular the leaders gathering at COP17 in Durban, that the climate issue will have to be solved NOW:
Rita a Caravanite from Uganda is becoming increasing confident on the achievements by the mobilization of the caravan along the route.
I have realized that this caravan is achieving the sensitization objective on matters concerning the climate.
Rita has noticed that there are so many people that are ignorant about the climate changes yet they live with its negative effects. To Rita, meeting young women like Sarah, a farmer, and hearing her story she gets more inspiration to keep on this caravan and speak up for climate justice. So do I.
While in Laponga Village, on the border of Tanzania and Malawi, I met Agripin Boaz, a woman farmer with a husband and three children. Agripin was selling potatoes, greens, and coconuts. Her price for 5 small potatoes was 300t Tanzania Shillings; not even enough to feed a single person.
With the vast land that surrounded Agripin I was inquisitive as to why she did not practice farming instead of trying to make an income from the small stall. Agripin shared with me her frustration that forced her to open up the stall 3 months back. Agripin and her husband hired 2 acres of land at 30,000 Tanzania Shillings per year. On this land they grew maize mostly for home consumption but sold a bit to afford necessities. Agripin told me that the biggest risk they faced is the unpredictable rains.
"The previous year the rains took longer than usual to fall so we tried to adjust to the new rain patterns and delayed the preparations of the field this year. We should not have done this. The total opposite happened. This year the rains were too early," Agripi explained.
The previous year the rains took longer than usual to fall... This year the rains were too early.
Agripin and her husband, just like the other farmers in this area, still use rudimentary methods of farming. Therefore none of them managed to clear the field to catch the rains.
So Agripin had no other option but to invest the little money she had in the stall hoping to get some money to feed her family.
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