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
Nov 15, 2010

Fiarenana’s potato harvest was a great success

Showing her potato harvest
Showing her potato harvest

Rule of thumb for our microcredit:

If you try it once it is an experiment; A second time if it worked well, as a promising approach; A third time it becomes implemented as a program.

For the second time, the ‘seed fund’ with potatoes has been a great success in our second village (Fiarenana). Each participant got 2 kg (approx. 5 lbs US) of potatoes in June. Potatoes had been planted after the rice harvest in the same fields that are currently being prepared for the next rice crop again. Each farmer was able to harvest between 20 - 40 kg of potatoes from the 2 kilos of seed stock, a great return on our initial investment of 200kg of potatoes. (See our website for last year’s experiment.)

 In contrast to the last time farmers did not only eat all the potatoes in the “époque dure”, the hard time between rice harvests. Some sold potatoes in the neighboring small town to get access to much needed cash. In contrast, one farmer, who decided not to sell his crop said: “It does not make sense to sell potatoes in the market and turn around in the market and spent the money on buying rice to eat. So we ate all of our own potatoes instead and it was very tasty”.  This is an amazing development in itself, in a culture where rice is the only food considered a “real” meal (see our webpage on rice).

This second time around the Zahana gardener in the village encouraged everybody to keep some of the smaller potatoes as seed stock for the next planting season. He also agreed to continuously cultivate potatoes all year round to test is they can be planted in other seasons as well successfully.

Fiarenena’s harvested potatoes grew big
Fiarenena’s harvested potatoes grew big
Zahana
Zahana's master gardener

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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

PS: We have updated our privacy policy. Take a look if you are interested.

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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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