By Francesca Reinhardt, Program Support Officer, Chad
Fatou Yali dreams of the herd of cattle her family once had, and the day she can start building up her own herd in her new home in Chad. Fatou is one of 76,000 refugees from the Central African Republic now rebuilding their lives in neighbouring Chad.
“Many people left ahead of us, when they heard the rebels were approaching,” she says, “but we wanted to stay. Even when they took our cattle, we wanted to stay. But when the shooting came to our door, we had to leave.”
Fatou comes from near the town of Paoua, northern CAR, which has seen heavy fighting between rebel and government forces since 2003. She is from the Fula tribe, which stretches across west and central Africa, and who make up a large part of the Dosseye refugee camp, near the town of Goré, Southern Chad.
They have been here for four years, and as the situation in CAR remains volatile, many have little hope of returning. The government and local communities have generously donated land to the refugees, allowing them to take the first steps towards self-sufficiency.
Today Fatou is at a seed distribution at the Dosseye camp seed bank, organised with the help of Concern Worldwide. After a long, hot dry season, the rains have just started and the planting season is about to kick off. Hundreds of farmers have come to collect sacks of peanut, sorghum, and sesame seeds.
The seed bank is managed by a local committee, storing high quality seeds for improved crop varieties. Refugees can borrow seeds at the start of the harvest, and if the harvest is a success, deposit seeds for the following year. This ensures safe storage and affordable access to seeds for the whole community.
“I will use the seeds to plant an extra hectare this year,” says Fatou. “If it goes well, I will use the money to buy a goat. If I have luck with the goats, I will earn the money to buy an ox.”
Now 23 and with three children of her own, she wants to give them what she had as a child. Does she think she will return to her home in Paoua? She shrugs. “Only God knows,” she says. “But I have my children to feed now, my children are growing now. We will do what we can now.”
Concern is working with 2,000 refugee families living in the three camps of Amboko, Gondjé, and Dosseye along the Pende river in Southern Chad. As long-term refugees, Concern is helping them to raise food production through seeds, training, and community management. Chad is host to 76,000 refugees from CAR, 250,000 refugees from Sudan, as well as having 100,000 internally displaced people. Concern also works with communities in Eastern Chad affected by the conflict in West Sudan.