Meet the people

Self Help Africa's work with rural farming families across Africa.

Meet some of the mothers, fathers, farmers and rural entrepreneurs that we've worked with recently, below:


meet giddeh jallow - The Gambia

For more than a decade, Giddeh Jallow has grown and sold vegetables in northern Gambia to support her family. But with little access to information about market prices, she and her colleagues were ill-equipped to negotiate fair rates.

Like many farmers in her community, Giddeh, who is a member of a market cooperative in the Central River Region and the facilitator of a farmer field school, would sell the vegetables she grew each harvest to visiting middlemen for whatever price she was offered, leaving her with little income to show for months of hard work. Money was tight and morale was low as the family struggled to cover the costs of food and school fees.

But since we introduced a sustainable market price information system across The Gambia’s six agricultural regions, Giddeh and her farming colleagues have the information they need to negotiate fairer prices for their produce. Climate advice and data mean they now know which vegetables people need when there’s a scarcity too, improving their planting approaches and income. The process has also united the farmers, who have agreed to charge the same prices for their produce.

“Now we are earning more revenue from our produce,” said Giddeh, whose business has grown. “Before the market information system, I was struggling to pay school fees for my children and meet other basic needs. Now that I have increased my income, I am able to take care of my family’s basic needs with[out] financial challenges.”

United Purpose works with farmers within The Gambia to help improve the stability of their income and earn a decent living for themselves and their families. We help by improving farming practices and access to water, encouraging access to new markets for fresh local produce, promoting farming as a business and helping farmers develop sustainable value chains. We are also nurturing initiatives using biofortified crops that significantly improve the concentration of particular nutrients.

Margret Chirwa - Malawi

Margret Chirwa supplements her farming income by selling samosas that she makes, in her village market.

A single mother who has reared her two children alone, Margret has struggled to make ends meet. It has been particularly tough for her to give her younger boy Precious, born with profound physical and learning difficulties, the attention he needs.

Margret is amongst close to 2,500 farmers in Malawi’s Thyolo District to benefit from a project that is promoting crop diversification, including the introduction of nutrient rich orange-fleshed sweet potato.

“At first I just used sweet potatoes to bolster our family diet. Now, I am also selling them alongside my samosas, at the market. I have been able to buy a few goats and piglets with the income.”

While life remains a challenge for this 48-year-old Malawian mum, she says that the increase in income has taken the pressure off. “I’m excited to see what I can grow, and am thinking of making doughnuts, fritters and also fruit juice which I can bring with me to sell, on market days.”

Lina Loriet - Kenya

Lina Loriet lives in Komolion village on a hot and dusty plain in Baringo county in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley.

Life here is tough. To generate an income to supplement the food that she grows herself to feed her young daughters, Lina has become a water carrier, hefting heavy jerrycans of water for her neighbours, to earn some money.

“I do the work of a donkey,” says the 35 year old mother of four. But it has been necessary, if she is to eke a living from this hot and barren place.

Lina is amongst 2,000 women headed households being supported with goat breeding, poultry rearing and the production of drought tolerant crops such as millet and green gram.

She has new kid goats, bred from an improved breed male that are bigger and stronger, is rearing a small number of chickens that provide her with a regular supply of eggs, and is now too growing crops that are more capable of surviving in the hotter and drier climate in this region.

meet joyce - Uganda

Mother-of-five Senait Ashine has become a local advocate for healthy eating since she took part in a training programme on diet and nutrition, organised by Self Help Africa.

In Oda Bultum village, in a region of Ethiopia where childhood malnourishment is commonplace, Senait believes that her own kids are both happier and healthier as a result of what she has learned.

She says that the course taught her not just the nutritional properties of different foods and the importance of a balanced diet; she also learned new cooking skills, and has become an advocate for breastfeeding by young mothers in the locality.

Senait is a member of a Self Help Africa-backed savings and credit cooperative, and has used her membership of the group to borrow funds to acquire her own goat herd. She currently has seven animals, and both sells the milk they yield, and gives it to her children, every day. “Goats milk has become part of their more healthy diet,” she says.