The Copperbelt Rural Livelihood Enhancement Support Project has been operating in four communities in Masaiti, Mpongwe, Luanshya and Kalulushi districts in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia. The livelihoods of people in the target communities have continued to improve due to integrated agriculture, nutrition education and sanitation activities. This is evident in the increased household income, access to food, improved diets and improved hygiene.
Heifer International continues playing a leading role in implementing activities in partnership with the National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC), Village Water Zambia (VWZ) and the government ministries of Community Development, Maternal and Child Health (MCDMCH) and Agriculture & Livestock (MAL). The partners continued providing training and monitoring project activities. To enhance the partnership and project ownership by participants, review and planning meetings were held monthly at the community level.
Through a number of interventions, 6,462 families have been reached. 364 families have been supported with livestock, 753 with vegetable production, 248 with human nutrition, 221 with agroforestry, 60 with conservation farming and 4,816 with water and sanitation activities.
This is the story of Renu Devi. She is aged around 40 years and belongs to Kasturba Mahila Mandal, group no. A-2 of Belha village. Due to extreme poverty, her parents were not able to provide education for her and that’s why she bounded to marry a widower man having four children. Her husband Mr. Indradev Mahto’s first wife too died due to his impoverish poverty. Mr. Indradev is a laborer and he migrates for six months to Panipat, Haryana to work on wages. During his stay at Panipat for six months, Renu Devi faced a lot of problems on housekeeping, care on children and ill health issues of her mother in law. She always thought of giving education to her own son and step children. But time passed by on a woe and her only son Mr. Prakash Kumar also migrated to Haryana for wages.
The sudden turn around came into Renu’s life when she joined Kasturba Mahila Mandal a SHG supported by Heifer project. As a group member, she started saving Rs.25 per month in group fund. She received SHG management training. During training she came to understand the importance of group management and small savings. She thought herself that she got the way how to fight the devil of poverty and thus make up her mind to open a grocery shop. During training she reflected her thought before trainer and group members. All participants appreciated her thinking and in a group meeting it is decided to give Renu Devi Rs.1000 loan at the interest of 3%.
After getting loan from group, Renu Devi was very happy but a question was always revolving in her mind on how to start her business. Earlier she was in practice of selling vegetables in a rented shop. A thought came in her mind and she talked with the owner of that shop and acquired it on a rent of Rs.200 per month. She started selling vegetables with the help of Rs.1000 from group’s loan and Rs.1000 from her own savings. Her hard work and constant efforts in this petty shop business her income started to grow up to 100-150 Rs. per day. Her husband came in wonder on her effort and earning when he came back from Haryana state where he went on migration. Finally he decided to not to go again to Haryana and help Renu on her business. He assisted her on growing green vegetables on their small field they have with a view to grow more profit making vegetables. Gradually as demand arise by the villagers, Renu also attached with this shop tea and snacks. This step almost doubled her per day income from Rs.100-150 to Rs.200-250. During festive season her shop’s income recorded Rs.1000-Rs.1200.
In these days, her shop has stock of around Rs.5000. She also paid back loan Rs.1090 to group fund. After seeing her income more shops opened by other villagers but Renu’s shop is running in its flame and progressing day by day. After fulfilling all basic household needs she has also saved Rs.8000 in her own account.
Thus with the help of group and her own intelligence, she brought back happiness for her family. Her husband and son left totally migrating to Haryana for wages. Now she is thinking to fulfill her own fervor desire of reading, writing, and understanding text, in true sense the desire of knowledge and education for herself and her only son Mr. Prakash.
Project families in general have changed their lifestyle through change in social behavior. Some specific examples - Leelamaya Ramtel from the original group earned NPR 54,000 as the highest income from buffaloes rearing during this reporting period; while Yava Karki and Tulasha Bhujel from pass on groups earned a highest amount of NPR 63,000 and lowest amount of NPR 25,000 from same. It shows that on an average each project family has earned at least 10,000 from buffaloes rearing. Similarly, 270 project families have earned a total sum of NPR 453,100 by selling off-springs of original and passed on buffaloes and goats. Further, those 270 project families have also earned a total of NPR 218,100 from kitchen gardening; while some of the project families earned up to NPR 6,700 by selling fodder and forage as well. The entire Self-Help Group (SHG) members are also increasing their saving funds from various activities like group laboring, retailed shops, handful grains donation campaigns etc. and have added their funds by NPR 449950 in total. Similarly, 6 SHG members have earned up to NPR 155,500 in total from collective ginger farming and by selling at nearby markets.After receiving different trainings, community members have maintained social harmony being united and supporting each other. Similarly, project families have cultivated vegetables by using organic manures and have been consuming fresh vegetables daily. It has supported them to be healthy. Besides, they have applied improved animal management technology. Discrimination based on caste, race, gender and religion has remarkably reduced. Community members appreciate each other’s feelings, thoughts and ideas and share for betterment of themselves.Increased group leadership has come up with increased and effective coordination and collaboration with different stakeholders regarding to the developmental activities. Increased awareness about the sanitation, health and hygiene has supported to undertake sanitation campaigns, keep the surroundings neat and clean.