The sensational story is that of the floods. The lesser known story of the region also involves water—but instead of too much water, this story is one of not enough water. The area has no real rivers, only ephemeral streams that quickly dry up after a rain. There are a very few springs and these can dry up, too, in the dry season. People need water for drinking, washing, watering animals, and growing onion and cabbage seedlings. Most other farming—corn and sorghum and beans and the like—involves crops that rely soley on rainfall.
Cher-Frère and I were in an area called Mòn Kat (Mt. Kat) today, which is a good hour's walk+drive from Fond Verrettes. I was astounded to learn that most people living here get all their water from the Karetye ravine spring—the one that feeds the onion seed beds above Fond Verrettes. For people in Mt. Kat who don't have a resevoir to collect rainwater, or who can't afford to buy water from a neighbor with a resevoir—and this is most everyone we talked with—it takes 5 to 6 hours to make the trip to get water from the Karetye spring and then carry it back up the mountain. In years when the Karetye spring dries up people have to go even further. One couple told us their children complain of thirst even more than they complain of hunger.
Despite the poverty and the amazing difficulty of "mere survival," numerous people offered us gifts of potatoes and eggs and everyone graciously endured our survey questions.