Zahana

Zahana in Madagascar is dedicated to participatory rural development, education, revitalization of traditional Malagasy medicine, reforestation, and sustainable agriculture. It is Zahana's philosophy that participatory development must be based on local needs and solutions proposed by local people. It means asking communities what they need and working with them collaboratively so they can achieve their goals. Each community's own needs are unique and require a tailor -made response
Sep 28, 2010

Seven Daughters in Fiadanana's school

Seven sisters in the school in Fiadanana
Seven sisters in the school in Fiadanana

Aloha friends of Zahana,

Sometimes we get a photo we really like, such as this one (see below). Later we get a chance to talk with our partners in Madagascar and learn about a story we never imagined behind such a picture.

What you see: Seven beautiful sisters in the newly community built school in Fiarenana.

What we learned: The teacher told us that in this family with seven daughters, every day one of the girls is skipping school. Not attending school for any child being very unusual in Fiarenana, Zahana inquired with the parents. They explained that this is indeed the case. The reason being simple: While the parents are out in the fields working all day with the increasing help of the oldest daughter, somebody has to take care of the little one, not in school yet. Not to single out one child as a designated caretaker, they felt the fairest thing to do was to task a different daughter every day to be in charge of their little sister at home.

Best regards,

Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus

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Aug 11, 2010

The students are learning to grow food

Bary the gardener at work in the school garden
Bary the gardener at work in the school garden

Zahana has recently hired Bary, a second gardener to work in the village of Fiadanana, the first project site where our participatory collaboration started in 2005. Bary is currently being trained by our original gardener in the second village (Fiarenana) and shows an equally amazing green thumb. Combined with great enthusiasm, Bary is planting and growing what he learned right away. We have the feeling we have some healthy growing competition going here and both gardeners are very active trying out new seeds and raising tree seedlings for their villages.

Bary decided to put his knowledge to good use revitalizing the school garden that fell dormant after the initial enthusiasm by the woman’s group in 2006. He now actively involves the school children in the planting and tending of their garden. Learning to grow vegetables as part of their hands-on curriculum means the children are raising their future school food at the same time. The seventh communal faucet in Fiadanana was put all the way out in the schoolyard so children had access to clean, safe drinking water. A running faucet makes is possible to water the vegetable beds regularly in an environment that is quite dry and dusty, where water makes the difference between green or shriveled. They take great pride in watering their crops. The pictures speak for themselves. Please visit our website for additional pictures.

The new beds planted with vegetables
The new beds planted with vegetables
The students in the school garden
The students in the school garden

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Aug 11, 2010

Getting people to buy into solar cooking

The low cost panel cooker in action
The low cost panel cooker in action

The solar water pasteurizers have been well received by the villagers. In the school of Fiarenana where access to clean safe drinking water is still an ongoing challenge, solar water pasteurization is the best way to make the water safe for drinking.

In addition, our ‘solar volunteer’ Bruce has spent over two week in the villages and introduced a locally built model of a solar panel cooker. Using an off the shelf car window screen (bought in the big city) and a plastic bag, this home-made panel cooker is extremely light weight and versatile. (To learn more about solar panel cookers, one of the key solar cooking technologies, please visit e.g. solar cookers international www.solarcookers.org). Panel cookers have limitations, such as the plastic bag required, but are a great way to introduce villagers to the idea to use the sun for cooking. Small in size and easy to store, rice or beans can be cooked in an afternoon.

It has been Zahana’s learning experience that solar cooking should be introduced incrementally. Once some of the villagers have adopted the idea of experimenting with the solar panel cookers, they can be introduced to box cookers. The only sure way to learn about solar cooking is by cooking with it and getting first had experience.

Once they are familiar with box cookers and use them more regularly they can be introduced to the Balzintubesolar, that is so much more efficient that they will be convinced after the first cooking demonstration.

In addition Bruce introduced a solar panel that can recharge the community’s cell phone. These small solar panels need quite some hands-on training to be used efficiently or they do not work properly. Inadequate training can easily lead to frustration and solar technology just collecting dust. The solar panels, which also can power a light, are currently being marketed in Madagascar, but with a price tag of around $30 they are out of reach for most villagers.

Mounting the solar panel to charge the cell phone
Mounting the solar panel to charge the cell phone
Solar panel
Solar panel 'inspection'

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