When Jeremias Ngwenya opened his eyes one morning last March in Mozambique, he remembers exactly how he felt.
He rested upon a soft, white mattress with a faded blue flower print, just underneath a teal-colored mosquito net. Small rays of sun burst through the uneven spaces in the walls of tethered reeds surrounding him.
“When I woke up, I had a lot of will,” he said. “I didn’t sleep yesterday. I hadn’t eaten anything. I had will to thank God. I had a desire to go get the food.”
For the Ngwenya family, today was their final food distribution day from the World Food Programme (WFP).
Because of a historic drought in 2016, their plot of rain-fed farmland, managed by his wife Anastacia, had little to offer their two young children Josue and Isabel. Jeremias would sometimes buy a small additional amount of food with his earnings as a cobbler, repairing shoes for a few customers a week. Now, the potential promise of new plantings of corn and beans was still one month away from being ready to harvest.
“It was very hard during the drought,” he says. “And even now we are feeling the impact because we still haven’t harvested in the field.”
With the help of WFP, Jeremias and the small-scale farmers who call the rural community of Macunene home averted catastrophe. They received lifesaving food assistance and learned new skills to become more self-reliant. They took steps to build their resilience to climate change, planting drought-resistant seeds, adopting new irrigation techniques, and accessing new markets to sell more of what they grow. Many were now looking forward to the future.