Anah Maemu is a small-holder farmer in the rural province of Limpopo in South Africa. She started farming on her plot in Tshiombo Village in 1969. Anah, began farming in order to feed her family and to sell excess produce to pay for her children’s schooling.
In 2016, the plot continues to feed her three children, along with her 6 grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Water is scarce in the area, not only because of the on-going drought, but also due to a lack of equitable water management. Once the bigger farms have irrigated their crops, little water reaches the canals which all local farmers, mostly women, use to irrigate their own plots.
Instead of waiting until morning, farmers collect water at night before the canal water is depleted. “We spend our evenings waiting to collect water so we can irrigate crops in the morning. Many women get raped,” explains Anah. She says she has had it up to here with violence against women. “I am pained to see women of our country abused, who don’t know their rights or how to free themselves. Women must break the silence.”
Anah explains that the community needs better water management so women can irrigate their crops without having to collect water late at night. She also believes that part of the solution is awareness-raising among women and girls.
In 2009 she became a reflect circle member with ActionAid South Africa’s partner— Xihlobo, and has attended many training sessions held in the village. “They always conduct workshops on how to claim my rights. They helped me improve my knowledge on women’s rights, abuse and also farming.”
When asked what a safe village would mean to her, Anah said, “It would mean a lot - a space free from violence, freedom of speech and empowerment.”