Tongma - Putting food on the Table

This is Tongma.

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He is a local Karen community member and has been our ‘construction man’ for two KHT projects. Tongma was chosen to head up construction after being recognised by Salahae, our Karen Manager, as hard working and highly knowledgeable. This is in line with our aim to empower the Karen community, through employing local people, to help them to learn the skills to build themselves a better future without needing to be dependent on external support. This also ensures the strong Karen culture and identity is maintained. 

Tongma’s most recent project was the construction of an irrigation dam in the large Karen village of Ban Non Haeng. Each year flooding had destroyed the fragile bamboo irrigation dams and left the paddy fields unproductive, leading to severe food shortages. The much more substantial dam which was completed just before the rainy season, has improved the life of 1,000 villagers. The community is now able to harvest rice from 15.8 acres of land which have been put back into production.

Tongma, who has three children, shared with us the impact the project has had on his life:

 ’Before the help of KHT I had very little income to support my family but this year the irrigation dam will produce a much more sustainable and reliable harvest, and enable us to earn 5 times more than last year.’
 

Through being able to farm above subsistence, villagers are now able to use their surplus produce to gain extra income which can be used to provide education and health care for families, such as Tongma’s. This is particularly important in a region where 64% of families have an income of just £1 per day. Alongside this the improvement of crop production also results in better health and nutrition. Tongma’s hard work, along with that of the many Karen villagers involved in the project, has resulted in crops becoming sustainable, rapidly reducing poverty in the region.