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
Aug 11, 2010

The new school garden grows every day

The teacher and his students
The teacher and his students

Jean our gardener with an amazing green thumb has expanded his activities. Besides continuing to grow trees saplings for the entire community, he is now actively involved in the school curriculum, teaching the children to plant vegetables, such as zucchini, tomatoes and carrots.

The vegetable beds were dug by a group of parents right after the official school opening in March (see that report for details) and the children have been planting and tending to the vegetables ever since. The only well (dug by Zahana), that has water all year round in the village is next to the school. The proximity to water makes it possible for the children to water their plants daily.

The school garden
The school garden
Tending to the garden
Tending to the garden

Links:

Aug 11, 2010

Growing from Seed with the Seed Fund

Growing tree seedlings
Growing tree seedlings

Zahana has recently hired Bary, a second gardener to work in the village of Fiadanana, or first project site where Zahana’s 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 in planting what he learned right away.

Both of them are growing new tree seedlings. The good news is that both gardeners are happy to experiment. This allows Zahana to introduce new seeds with the caveat that they might not be suitable for the climate, but there is only one good way to find out: grow it and see if it takes. Apples that have been requested by the gardeners are a good example. It is tricky to grow apples from seed that “fall true” or turn out to be a desired variety. To compound the challenge the climate might be too hot for apples, plants that like colder winters or higher altitude in a tropical climate. But with two adventurous gardeners it is much better to try planting apples and find out what happens. In addition Zahana is planting fast growing trees that can be used for firewood so people will not need to walk long distances and kill the existing trees. We are hoping this will help with the ongoing deforestation disaster in Madagascar.

Zahana’s seed fund also introduced new varieties of zucchini, beans and corn from a supplier that claims a 100% germination rate for their seeds. The first zucchini are already big enough to harvest and the corn and beans are doing very well.

In addition to the tree nursery and food crops for farmers, both gardeners are growing vegetables with the children in their respective school gardens. More about that on our website and the progress reports for the schools.

More trees for the future
More trees for the future
The new seeds are doing well
The new seeds are doing well

Links:

Jun 28, 2010

An update from Fiarenana

The typical hump that gives the zebu its name
The typical hump that gives the zebu its name

Dear friends,

It is certainly easier to report about the opening of a school or the planting of trees, but on a more somber note, here is the latest sad news from Madagascar.

Our village of Fiarenana was attacked for the third time by ‘dahalo’, or cattle thieves, a few weeks back. They came into the village at night, shouting loudly, throwing stones at the house and firing gun shots in the air. People huddled inside their houses in fear for their lives. They stole 11 zebu belonging to the pastor and 2 other people in the village. Our contact in the village reported on the cell phone: “The entire districts is devastated and in a state of shock, most villages have been attacked and robbed by dahalo at night, something that we have never experienced before in our area. In the village next to us a 15 year old boy was shot dead”.

Note: Zebu are cattle and prized possessions in Madagascar. Poor farmers raise cattle as a living savings account. They need at least two heads of cattle to plow their fields and pull their carriages. Zebus are an important source of milk. For centuries zebu have had great cultural significance and are vital for funerals.

Guns are very uncommon in Madagascar and nobody in the villages owns any firearms or weapons. In the past cattle thieves were very uncommon in our part of the country and armed with sticks they occasionally stole a cow or two grazing at night far away from the village, scaring and making the child watching it run away. People in Madagascar, rooted in cultural traditions, do not go outside after dark if they can avoid it. Since the situation got more volatile, many farmers have gathered all zebu inside the village at night to guard better against cattle thieves, putting them at the same time as risk of a violent attack inside their village. Fortunately for Zahana, people do not feel that they are more prone to fall prey to dahalo because of their cooperation of working with us, the ‘outsiders’.

We apologize if you get this update more than once, but by the same token say: “thank you for supporting more than one of our projects on GlobalGiving”

Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus

Zebu and a carraige in the background
Zebu and a carraige in the background
The typical carriage drawn by two zebu
The typical carriage drawn by two zebu

Links:

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