We open a country programme in Zambia and provide aid to hundreds of families
Mongu (January 24th, 2018) - People in Need (PIN), an NGO which, apart from its activities in the Czech Republic, provides humanitarian and development aid in 22 countries all over the world, has newly opened a permanent country programme in Zambia. The goal is to contribute to reducing malnutrition and increasing resilience of the inhabitants of the Western Province. Zambia is one of the world´s poorest countries, with one of the biggest gaps between the poor and the rich. The most vulnerable are the people living in remote rural areas, particularly women and children. PIN has therefore decided to help in the Western Province where over 80% of the inhabitants are affected by extreme poverty.
Zambia has been facing extremely high rates of malnutrition, unemployment and poor infrastructure for a long time. “Before we have started working in this landlocked country in the south of Africa, we have researched the local conditions thoroughly to find out where our help would be needed the most. We discussed with local communities and sent our experts on malnutrition and agriculture to make sure that we had something to offer and we would be of benefit to the area,” says Richard Walker, PIN Regional Director for Africa.
PIN then decided to focus on the most vulnerable in the area of Kalabo district in the western parts of the country. “In August 2017, we opened our office in Mongu, the largest city of the Western Province. Currently we have two Czechs, one Indian and 10 local colleagues working there. Our team regularly visits villages located approximately a one hour drive across the Barotse floodplains, where the families we are helping live,” adds Walker. People in Need currently works with more than 700 families in three communities.
From seeds and hoes to clean hands and safe births
Over 60 % of Zambia’s population relies on agriculture as the main source of livelihood. Especially for people in remote rural areas, agriculture is the only means. The dependence on rainy seasons, which are, considering climate change, increasingly unpredictable and unreliable, is rising the risk of insufficient production and subsequent malnutrition and poverty. “In the Western Province, up to 80 % of the population is dependent on agriculture. We work on improving the agricultural methods of selected farmers, to allow them to get through also during the droughts. We are teaching them new techniques of soil cultivation and we provide them with seeds of plants that are more resistant and have a high nutritional value,” says Martina Nikodémová, Country Director of PIN Zambia.
“Our main goal is reducing malnutrition in children under 5 years old and in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. At the same time, we are assisting local people to gain access to the market, to allow them to be financially self-sustainable. The closest market can be up to a 7-hour drive, which is a journey not worth making for farmers with small crops, such as, for example, 12 kg of tomatoes. Therefore we work with local businessmen and businesswomen to buy out the harvest from the local farmers and then sell it on the market on behalf of the whole village,” Martina Nikodémová explains. An essential part of this integrated approach to tackle malnutrition and increase the resilience of local communities is an emphasis on correct hygiene habits, access to clean potable water and enabling local women to give birth in health centres.
A good harvest can secure the whole family
Maliwa Mukelabai, a mum of 5, lives in the village of Nawinda, working on her little field that she had inherited from her parents. She inspects the plot of land, which is a 40-minute walk from home, every day. Her whole family relies on the harvest from this field. “I mainly grow corn and casava. The weather has been very dry though, and the harvest is small. Once we plant the beans, peanuts and bambara nuts that we received, the harvest should become much larger,” says Maliwa, who took part in the PIN project. She attended a seminar on agricultural techniques, received a new hoe, a new machete for removing the unwanted trees and branches, and 15kg of seeds.
The soil around the village is sandy, and so Maliwa adds fallen leaves from the surrounding trees to the loose soil to help fertilize it. “I hope the crops will sprout soon. I would like to sell any extra harvest on the market, but the closest ones are in Kalaba or Mongu, which is too far for me,” she points out.
But her neighbour, a young mum of a 3-year old girl, is here to assist. Lungowe Mwakamui has been selected and trained as a sales representative for her community. She will be the one selling the crops of the Nawinda farmers on the market. “I have a bit of experience with the trade business. When I lived at my auntie´s in town, I used to sell rice, fish and beans and I have learned the basics of trade. Now I can help my neighbours in our village by buying out the harvest from them and transporting it to the market for sale,” Lungowe explains. The seeds and seedlings distribution has only recently started, but the local people appreciate it and they highly value the offered help.
Complex fight against malnutrition in Africa
„Since the very beginning of our newly opened country programme, we have been using our rich experience from countries where we work that have a similar context,” says Richard Walker. “In order to reduce the high rate of malnutrition in the local communities in the most effective way, we are using an innovative approach that connects various areas of development aid – from securing livelihood and sustainable agriculture, to improving nutrition, increasing access to clean potable water and educating about correct hygiene habits,” he adds.
This program, focusing on reducing malnutrition in the Zambian Western Province, is possible thanks to the support of the many donors of the long-term public fund Real Aid. People in Need would like to thank all of them for their support.