Rural communities in Tunisia face many environmental challenges which are having a dire impact on their lives and livelihoods. Islamic Relief is working with rural communities in Kebilli, Tunisia, to help protect farmers’ livelihoods amid these challenges, and to support them to create new sustainable livelihoods.
Climate change has seen unpredictable weather conditions during the agricultural season, which is harming crop growth. Farmers have also noticed an increase in disease among their crops, leading to lower quality yields. To make matters worse, farmers are finding that the crops are becoming resistant to the pesticides available, and as a result are becoming infested with insects and dying. Sadly, this has cost many farmers their livelihoods and left them struggling to feed their families.
We are providing farmers with essential training in combating the effects of environmental challenges, as well as greenhouses, seeds, insect-proof nets and fertilisers to help them create new livelihoods. Some farmers have also received goats and are selling their produce to help sustain their families. What’s more, we are working with over 100 local women and young people, providing them with vocational training and equipment to start their own small businesses.
“I have been working as a farmer for 30 years. In the past, the pesticides I use eliminated insects and diseases, and they were useful. But now, the effect of these pesticides has become very weak,” says Ali, who received new pesticides from Islamic Relief
We also gave him 10 plastic covers to protect his plants, and compensation for the loss of crops that he has suffered.
“Farmers have been using damaged plastic covers because they face difficulties in purchasing them. In fact, they aren’t even available in the market. Islamic Relief has provided us with plastic covers and we are maintaining them ourselves. We would like to thank you for your support. Plastic covers and pesticides are two very important items to us. With continued support of this kind, the situation of farmers will change completely”, he says.
Supporting farmers like Saleh
These environmental challenges have also affected Saleh, another farmer from Kebilli. The situation in his local area has been so difficult that some farmers have been forced to sell their greenhouses to pay off their debts, while others have gone without food and clothes in order to save their farms.
“The farmers here are very frustrated and work inefficiently as a result. We need to treat the diseases that attack our farms and trees. Sometimes we treat them incorrectly, which causes plants to die. If an insect attacks the plant, it will be instantly damaged and farmers lose out”, says Saleh.
Saleh was also given pesticides, plastic covers to protect his plants and financial assistance as part of Islamic Relief’s project.
“The farmers have been very happy with this support. Their situation has greatly improved. For example, when you provide financial assistance to a farmer, he can save some money and use it to buy goats, from which he can make a living”, he says.
Many farmers have struggled to cope with the difficulties they have faced, and it has impacted their mental health.
“When people’s livelihoods are safe, they work much harder. For example, when my situation is difficult, I feel frustrated and it affects my work. The deteriorating prices have affected the spirits of farmers. Some have simply neglected their projects and left”, he says.
The financial support provided as part of Islamic Relief’s project is helping to ease their burden. They can now clear their debts and protect their crops, allowing them to continue to make a living.
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