It seems impossible as Mercy stands at the centre of her small, flourishing green farm, surrounded by papaya trees, passionfruit, mangoes, spinach, sorghum, maize and chilli.
Everywhere, food bursts from the ground.
Women farmers leading change in Kenya.
“A lot has changed,” she says, as she describes the journey she has been on since 2011, before she joined a farmers’ group supported by, where she learnt about sustainable and climate-resilient farming methods to improve the returns on her crops.
Back then, the only access to water that Mercy had was the river, which lies kilometres in the distance.
“Before I had no water,” Mercy says. “It took me three hours to fetch 20 litres of water. The situation was very bad. I often had to send the children to sleep hungry as I had no water to cook the food. I felt so bad that my children went to sleep hungry.”
Mercy says that the training and the support of the other farmers in the group changed her life.
“I decided then to build a dam. My husband and son helped to dig it along with my group members, and ActionAid supported me by providing a dam liner.”
Being able to fetch water easily has meant that Mercy no longer spends her time hauling water back to the house—that means she can spend more time tending to her crops.
Mercy’s farm is more productive than ever, and with the extra income from selling her yields she has bought a sheep, two bulls and a donkey to help her with heavy farm work.
She feels more resilient than she did before. When her family’s house fell down earlier this year, she was able to afford to build a new one – with two bedrooms, rather than one.
Mercy has always been a strong woman, but she hasn’t always felt powerful. Now, with ActionAid’s training, Mercy has the skills to take charge of her future, no matter what challenges climate change may bring.
Find more more about how we’re working with other women like Mercy.