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
May 7, 2010

Potatoes – An example of microcredit seed fund

A bag of potatoes as seed stock
A bag of potatoes as seed stock

Dear friends of Zahana,

One very telling example for Zahana’s seed fund is the potato crop introduced to the village of Fiarenana in late 2009. The villagers were provided with 100 kg of small potatoes as seed stock. Potatoes were one of new crop suitable for a diversified crop rotation recommended by the agricultural expert who visited the village in September (?) 2009.

Zahana implemented that suggestion, hoping the potato crop can be sold at the market to generate cash income for the farmers in a season where the rice seedlings are already planted, but the rice ‘cash crop’ is far from being harvested.

The community decided to distribute 2 kg of potatoes to each family. Lists were meticulously kept, and each family was instructed to pay back their ‘loan’ in potato seedlings after the harvest, therefore increasing the community seed fund.

The potato harvest was very successful and over two tons of potatoes were harvested in the village. The only major problem was, admitted the villagers with great embarrassment to Zahana in March, that instead of selling the surplus potatoes, they ate them.

This example illustrates what success means for Zahana. From a traditional microcredit point of view the project is a failure, because it did not generate additional cash income for the farmers as intended. From Zahana’s perspective it was a huge success, because people did not only increase the community seed fund enriching it with a new crop, but also had food to eat in the “époque dure” or the “hard times” period before the rice harvest. The fact the potatoes are very high in vitamin C, is a great public health benefit during the rainy season where people normally go hungry for many weeks.

Thank you for your support.

Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus

Links:

May 7, 2010

Official Inauguration of the school

The flowers spell "zahana"
The flowers spell "zahana"

Dear friends,

The official opening of the school in Fairenana was celebrated on March 4, 2010, although school already started in January after the completed teacher’s training. As you see in the photos the surroundings of the school have been planted with flowers and the environment has been beautified for the inauguration. A well was dug in the schoolyard. It is currently the only well that still has water in the village.

Malagasy celebrations traditionally feature official presentations as did ours with speeches by community representatives and Zahana, performances by the students and food. Congregating around the flagpole, in front of their school, the students sang and recited poems as part of the festivities. A meal for the entire community followed the official opening. It was served inside the school for the community leaders and for the children outside under the gazebo.

To celebrate the official school opening books were presented and donated to the community by Dr. Noro, one of the Zahana supporters. These books are now are the first library ever in the village of Fiarenana.

After the celebrations the community came together to dig the beds for the future school garden. These beds will be planted and tended by the students to provide vegetables and fruit for the school food in the future. In keeping with the idea of a rural university these beds can also be used to test new crops or new seeds in a more “playful” manner, without farmers having to commit their valuable land to test something new they might have never planted or seen before.

Please visit our website for more information and photos about the school.

Thank you for your support!

Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus

Children singing and dancing for the clebration
Children singing and dancing for the clebration
Children eating after the clebration
Children eating after the clebration
The new school with flower beds
The new school with flower beds
Eating in the school after the celebration
Eating in the school after the celebration
Books donated for the first library
Books donated for the first library
A cupboard waiting for the new books
A cupboard waiting for the new books

Links:

May 7, 2010

Updates from Madagascar May 2010

Metal bottles used for the solar water pasteurizer
Metal bottles used for the solar water pasteurizer

Dear friends,

In our last update from February we told you about a generous donation of Blazingtube solar cookers and solar water pasteurizers being shipped to Madagascar, the Blazintubesolar being currently the most efficient solar cooker available. The ship has arrived, but…

The solar water pasteurizers are a huge success. They are met with great interest, and are so efficient that even with limited sunshine water can be made safe to drink within a few hours. The solar water pasteurizers have proven to be an invaluable educational tool to demonstrate the sun’s energy can be used in many ways. The metal bottles need to reach just 150˚F/66˚C to effectively pasteurize and therefore make water safe to drink. The effect of the sun’s energy can be experienced “hands on”, touching the bottles quickly. The public health benefits in Madagascar for such a low-tech devices will be huge.

The solar cookers have not had the same luck. After an endless customs and shipping saga, with new forms and documents being requested every second day by some other agency, we finally got the boxes. After the boxes were delivered and unpacked, we found out that half of the vacuum tubes were broken ‘somewhere in transit’, with the blame being passed around among the shippers. A huge vacuum tube is not something we can buy in Madagascar off the shelf. Replacing it will take time and we are working with the inventor on our options. The sun has not cooperated either. Rainy and overcast days in the capital have made solar cooking there challenging to date.

We will initially take only two Blazingtube solar cookers, one for each of Zahana’s schools, to the villages. With the dry season starting in this part of the country, test data in sunnier Madagascar climate conditions will help us to evaluate the blazingtube on location, where it is needed the most.

Zahana is currently exploring other models of solar cookers available locally. The political instability, with a president that has not been recognized by many countries as the legitimate leader, has lead to many international organizations stopping work in or exporting goods to Madagascar. We might have to start building solar cookers to our specifications in country in the future.

Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus

The solar water pasteurizer in action
The solar water pasteurizer in action
The BlazinTubeSolar cooker being assembled with an
The BlazinTubeSolar cooker being assembled with an
Another low cost model, a panel solar cooker
Another low cost model, a panel solar cooker
The cookbox of the BlazingTubeSolar cooker
The cookbox of the BlazingTubeSolar cooker

Links:

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