During the period under review the project participants were engaged in the marketing of crops, livestock /livestock products and horticultural produce. Maize marketing was one of the major economic activities and farmers were selling directly to milling companies or to the government through the Food Reserve Agency. The Private Sector was buying a 50kg bag of maize at ZMW 75.00($15) while the government through FRA was buying at ZMW 65.00($13).
Highlights for this period:
Since project implementation, Heifer Zambia has reached 8,510 families (2,300 more than planned) and 23 institutions in the target communities of the Masaiti, Mpongwe, Luanshya and Kalulushi districts. The project continues intervention activities to improve participant’s skills and knowledge in integrated agriculture, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation practices. Local institutions have also adopted these practices through the support of community leaders.During this reporting period, 379 families have been supported with draft cattle, dairy cattle and meat goats. Ninety vegetable packs were provided and 8,066 participants were trained in human nutrition, agroforestry, conservation farming and water and sanitation activities. Trading, gardening and farming have improved the incomes and livelihoods of numerous families. Farm families were able to hire labor and acquire production assets such as land, livestock, bicycles and ox carts. Project participants also bought iron roofing sheets, beddings, mattresses and solar panels for their homes.
Gift of Goats Help Woman Become Self-Reliant
Project Participant Lontiya was forced to rely on her husband’s support throughout their 24 years of marriage. She is unable to have children, and being childless in their community made her an outcast and topic of gossip. Cultural tradition allowed Lontiya’s husband, Sikasunda, to marry a second wife and now at 61 years old, he has three children. Lontiya became angry and bitter toward her husband and said she detested crossing paths with her rival. “I felt so isolated and lonely even when I was in a group of friends,” Lontiya said. “I thought my husband would accept my [bareness] but he spends most of his time with his younger wife.”Through Heifer International’s training on the 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development, Lontiya learned to accept her reality and respond with actions of peace and reconciliation. In 2011, she also received seven goats that provide nutritious milk and manure for organic fertilizer. “The goats provide company, especially when I am alone,” Lontiya said. “They entertain me and are sometimes naughty because they are curious animals. They want to chew on everything around them.”After Passing on the Gift® (POG), Lontiya was able to sell two goats and buy agricultural inputs. When her home’s roof collapsed last year she bought iron sheets to replace the thatch roofing. Now, she finds satisfaction knowing she is a dependable wife and can share the benefits she earns with her husband. “This has brought profound joy in my life,” Lontiya said.Last year, she hosted a visiting U.S. team that came to learn more the project’s sucess. “My home is often visited by people from other countries—something I never imagined. I am always delighted to host and I hope they will come again,” Lontiya said. Lontiya said she is grateful for Heifer International’s support and is thankful it continues to enrich the lives of communities worldwide.
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 club you have embraced and are married to will never help you out of poverty!”
“People would mock us,” said John Mulwanda, 49, thehusband of Belinda, 51, of the Kamisenga Dairy Group. Belinda said, “These discouraging remarks continuedfor a long time. This was a very trying moment for us but we managed to endure the mockery, though at a certain point my husband stopped attending club meetings because he could not stand the torment.”
The community could not understand why members of Kamisenga believed in Heifer International when several organizations had been there before and did not fulfill their promises.
“Deep down in my heart, I was firm in faith because I had heard and seen what Heifer International had done in the neighboring Kampelembe community, and that gave me strength to be even more committed to club activities,” Belinda said.
She said the Kampelembe group members were given dairy cattle about six years ago and this made her not waiver in faith. “My friend Omelly and I were not discouraged in any way because we had invested a lot of time and resources preparing to receive the animals. We knew it was a matter of time,” Belinda said, “We were encouraged to attend group meetings and training weekly because our desire was to know how to look after animals.”
“Our families could not afford more than a meal a day and the only meal of the day would be taken in the evening when all the family members were present,” Belinda continued. “We would go to nearby farms to exchange labor for food, and my husband would also try to sell charcoal, but that was not sustainable because the work demanded a lot of energy and time. When I look back it was quite shameful and those are memories I would wish to forget.”
“I will never forget the day we received our dairy cattle from South Africa. When we saw a big truck approaching our communal holding pen, everyone ran to the track ululating (a trilling howl), yelling and some clinging to it. People shouted, ‘Shaisa ing`ombe twalelolela,’ or ‘the cattle we have been waiting for have finally come’ in Bemba.”
“Through the knowledge and skills we acquired from the training we were able to look after Elanco, the cow (named after project funder Elanco, a division of Eli Lilly and Company), adequately and she gave birth to a beautiful female calf. This brought joy to our family and we made sure everybody in the community knew exactly what had happened. The income from milk sales helped us in improving our lives and we are a very very happy family.”
“We no longer go out looking for food because it is our turn to also help other families with milk. My husband has already started buying iron sheets to improve the roof of our house. It is no longer a dream but a reality that soap, cooking oil, lotion… which were a myth, are now abundantly available. When schools open in January, I will not avoid visiting the head teacher’s office because I have what it takes to be a grandmother. I will walk straight in and pay for school fees directly just like Omelly did last year. The head teacher could not believe that Omelly, once a defaulting parent, could pay cash for her children’s school fees! It had even become a custom negotiating for her children to remain in school, promising to settle the fees immediately after she sold off charcoal or vegetables. Our monthly income from milk is 800,000 kwachas ($160) and with part of this money, I buy Elanco a bag of dairy meal.”
“We used to feel really ashamed of ourselves mixing with other people because we rarely had bathing soap. No matter how hard we tried to look our best, we felt like outcasts. We could not even afford clothes because that was far beyond our reach and the death of a calf simply amplified our poverty because we thought we were not fit to own an animal. But with all this, I now know that we were in the school of patience.”
With much joy, Belinda’s husband, John, said, “We were too desperate to find a solution to our poverty, especially since I only reached my seventh grade and my wife grade four, but now that Heifer has come to our aid, we are now well able to conquer and win any battle!”
“Most of all we are very grateful to Elanco, Heifer International, Village Water Zambia and government staff like Mr. Widney Munsaka for their support,” Belinda concluded.
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