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Nepal: A bountiful harvest as water returns to fields

Dil Maya Tamang knows a ripe pea pod when she sees one. This week alone, she’s picked 90 kilos of peas in the terraced fields near her house. And each time, her son comes along on her back. At fifteen months old, he’s a livewire.

Dil Maya’s family has been working this land for at least three generations. Water has always been scarce come springtime, but the 2015 earthquake made it worse. Because the shifting land and inconsistent water, Dil Maya and her neighbors had a difficult time cultivating enough crops to sustain their livelihoods. Most residents lost their crops for the year after the quake, which was devastating.

“Without water, we can’t farm. We can’t live,” remarked one of Dil Maya’s neighbors, Phul Maya Tamang.

This spring, Dil Maya and other families have irrigation back in the fields, thanks to the Red Cross. As part of a project to restore food security and people’s income, the Red Cross trained residents on how to construct an irrigation system and supplied the materials to bring it to fruition. As an added benefit, community members now know how to build safe, strong irrigation systems in case they ever want to expand the network in the future.

The increased water flow has enabled farmers to grow basic food (like corn and potatoes) for their families and more profitable crops (like peas) to sell at the market. Seemingly small gains can make a huge difference in the lives of people who depend on irrigation for their livelihoods. “The mustard greens are a bit taller this year,” noted Luk Maya, a Buddhist nun and nearby farmer.

For Dil Maya, irrigation is one of several ways her family has benefited from Red Cross help since the earthquake. She also recalled the warm clothes and blankets the Red Cross distributed to keep her newborn son warm the winter after the quake. And she’s thankful for the kitchen items and cash transfer her family received, which allowed her to prioritize her needs and purchase supplies she needed most.

It’s been nearly two years since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the Himalayan country – devastating families and communities. Red Cross teams delivered critical aid in the disaster’s aftermath and are still helping people recover. The American Red Cross is working alongside the Nepal Red Cross, the Spanish Red Cross, and the Canadian Red Cross on helping people rebuild their homes; spreading health and vaccination messages; constructing water and irrigation systems; replacing medical equipment; restoring people’s livelihoods; and more.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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