Côte d'Ivoire: seed brings hope of life returning to normal
At the end of March the ICRC and the Red Cross Society of Côte d'Ivoire distributed farming implements and seed to 15,000 residents of the Moyen-Cavally area in the west of the country. Many people in Moyen-Cavally have returned to their homes after being driven out by the armed violence of recent years. But life remains difficult.
It was early on a spring day on the hill outside Klobly village. The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of Côte d'Ivoire arrived in the pale morning light. “Ho gui hoo, a mon gui hoo”, people cried in Guere, the local language: “Hurry up, they’re here! " . The villagers streamed forward to collect the seed kits that the Red Cross volunteers were beginning to distribute.
Klobly is one of many villages to be affected by the armed conflict in Côte d'Ivoire. Situated in Toulepleu department and 10 kilometres from the Liberian border, it was half destroyed and its residents fled across the border or to other parts of the country. Now that the situation has returned to normal, the villagers are making their way back home and trying to pick up where they left off. In 2008 the ICRC began providing tools as well as rice and corn seed to the neediest people to help them start farming again while meeting their own food needs.
Wasteland and want
Poho Charles hobbled up to the distribution site with the help of a young woman. Now in his sixties, Poho was born in this village and lived here peacefully until his world was turned upside down in 2002. " The war was hard " , he said. " I escaped to Liberia, where I stayed for three years. When I came back, there was nothing left. The village had been overrun by grass, and scrub was growing in the fields. There was nothing left to eat and we had to start again from scratch. My wife didn't survive”.
The young woman at Poho's side was his niece, Hortense. “With everything that has happened, I stopped going to scho ol so that I can take care of him and the rest of the family”, she said. “Rice is the staple crop here, and every time sowing season comes around we face the same problems: how will we clear the fields of scrub, and where will we find seed?”
It fell to Hortense to become the family’s provider despite her young age. With the ICRC's help, she and Poho and the rest of their family will have enough to eat. “We looked at the rice we had left and hesitated between eating it all now and keeping some for planting. With this new seed, though, we can do both, and we hope this will lessen our worries.”
“The truth is " , said Poho as he received his kit, " this makes all the difference.”See also: Red Cross brings aid to 37 villages in west of country (news release, 29 March 2010)