Cazmira Cordoso lives in the remote mountainous village of Mulo, where Mercy Corps is helping 20 households work together to feed their children, make a living, and become more resilient to the adverse effects of climate change.
Villagers’ homes and garden plots are scattered up and down a steep mountainside. There’s evidence of climate stress everywhere. Cracked dirt and clouds of dust show signs of little rain. Steep drop offs show the trails of past landslides, and new man-made barriers (gabion baskets, or caged rocks) stand waiting to shield homes and roads from the next.
The dry seasons are getting longer here and the rains are becoming harder to predict. That leaves farmers like Cazmira with less to feed their families. As the dry season gets worse, life will only get harder. Knowing how to properly plant and care for their crops has become a key ingredient to a good harvest. Because they might not be able to control the weather, but they can make sure they’re using the best practices to increase their chances of success.
With training from Mercy Corps, Cazmira’s community is growing legumes (red beans) to eat and sell. They’ve also built a wall of bamboo to protect their gardens further downhill from future landslides and flash floods.
Each household has their own plot of legumes, but they all support one another. Together they plant and harvest as a group, and then sell and divide the earnings.
Cazmira and the other women in her group plant these legumes twice a year. This crop, planted before the dry season, will likely die. The ones that survive will be used for seed for the rainy season. Those will be sold to provide for their families. Each household produces about 20 buckets of legumes a year. Each bucket (25 liters) sells for $30 USD.
Through the M-RED program, Mercy Corps is working with 35 other vulnerable small farming communities in Timor-Leste who are living in hazard-prone areas vulnerable to drought, flash floods and landslides. By employing smart farming techniques and taking various disaster risk reduction measures, these communities are becoming more resilient to the adverse effects of climate change.