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Turning Challenges into Opportunities — Oxfam

Mehrunnisa, a 35-year-old farmer is a beneficiary of a High Efficiency Irrigation System and the General Secretary of her Community Organisation. She was married at 15 and has four daughters and two sons. After the 2003 floods, the land has been barren and there has been severe scarcity of water. She had to walk for an hour to collect drinking water.

And there had been days when there wasn’t enough money for food. Mehrunnisa along with her husband would do labour work on the lands of feudal lords, picking cotton and chilies, barely earning enough to put food on the table. To provide fodder for their livestock, they would cut grass, bundle it up and bring it home. They would sell the surplus to neighbours to earn some extra money.

From the training she received, she has learnt to save every drop of water and grow her own vegetables in a garden near her home. She has learnt the value of recycling water from home to be used in her plot. They have stopped using pesticides from the market and are using natural alternatives like neem and cow dung. These new practices have catered to the scarcity of water in the area, requiring far lesser water and have helped Mehrunnisa and her family take a huge step forward.

“I hope to reap the benefits by providing good food to my kids so that I can give them the best nutrition I possibly can. It is my dream to be so independent that I can support and help my family all on my own. I want to stand on my own two feet.”

–Mehrunnisa

Under the Building Resilient Communities in Pakistan Project (funded by the Australian NGO Cooperation Program), farmers and agricultural laborers, especially women like Mehrunnisa, were introduced to Climate Smart Agricultural techniques and trainings to overcome water shortages and tackle low crop yield. Mehrunnisa along with local farmers in the area have adopted High Efficiency Irrigation Systems, requiring the least amount of water needed for crops such as cotton. Mehrunnisa works with her husband on their demo plot, operating the water.

They have also adopted techniques such as intercropping for kitchen gardening, orchard farming, and switching to drought-resistant crop types and varieties, such as mud-apples, chilli’s, okra, etc. Mehrunnisa has improved her farm yield considerably through Climate Smart Agricultural practices, earning up to PKR 60,000 additional income each season“I hope to reap the benefits by providing good food to my kids so that I can give them the best nutrition I possibly can. I also want to be able to give them an education and start saving money because I haven’t been able to do that before. It is my dream to be so independent that I can support and help my family all on my own. I want to stand on my own two feet.”

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