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 23, 2016

From piglet to pig in a few months

Fiarenana women
Fiarenana women's group infront of their pig pen

We were delighted when the women's groups in both villages approached us (again) with the request of starting a microcredit project: raising, or better fattening up pigs. We bought piglets that were about two-months-old* and provided them to both women’s groups to raise and later, after 4 to 6 months, sell for profit.

In Madagascar this endeavor is always accompanied with diligent record-keeping and signed contracts. In one of the photos you see the head of the women's group in Fiarenana signing the contract under the curious eyes of some of their members. As an integral part of our microcredit strategy Zahana only finances the purchase of the pigs, but the group decides who gets entrusted with the caring and feeding of the first round of new pigs. It is also up to them how to divide the profit from the sale. After the first batch of pigs has been raised successfully, they will rotate the care and feeding of the subsequent piglets among their members. We are doing this in the hope that one day every member of the woman's group will have at least two or three pigs at any given time. This would greatly increase their access to very much needed cash (as well as some meat for their families).

Based on past experiences it is of course possible that the women's group might decide to divide the meat among themselves, instead of selling it for cash, but only time will tell.

*According to our friend who is a specialist in animal raising and has worked for Heifer International for over 20 years in many countries, the raising of piglets is better left to the specialist pig breeder, who knows how to do that. They need vaccinations and other special care that a trained pig breeder knows about, because piglets are most vulnerable when they are very young and can die easily. Once they are two month old and bigger they have a much better chance of 'making it'.

Checking out the pig pen of one of the members
Checking out the pig pen of one of the members
Signing contract for Fiareanana
Signing contract for Fiareanana's women's group
Taking piggy for a walk in the hood
Taking piggy for a walk in the hood
Tending to the pigs in her care
Tending to the pigs in her care
Pig raised next to her house
Pig raised next to her house

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May 20, 2016

As time goes by our trees keep on growing

Watching our for the young tree
Watching our for the young tree

The dream of reforestation has been a driving force behind our participatory community development efforts. More than once we have learned trees take their sweet old time to grow at their own pace. Planting is one thing, but rain, weather, and all too often in Madagascar, bush fires are factors that need to be taken into consideration.

Reconstructing a picture from the same angle always poses a challenge, but we hope, better than with any words, we can illustrate what successful reforestation looks like. The proximity to the school and tender loving care by our students makes these efforts successful (2007 versus 2016). The same applies to the health center in the middle of the village, where watchful eyes can share the burden of watering the trees or keeping the cattle at bay if need be (20014 versus 2016).

Our schoolyard way back when in 2007
Our schoolyard way back when in 2007
Same School - Different School Yard 2016
Same School - Different School Yard 2016
Health Center at Inauguration in 2014
Health Center at Inauguration in 2014
Health Center just two years later in 2016
Health Center just two years later in 2016
Shady schoolyard is always good on sunny days...
Shady schoolyard is always good on sunny days...
May 17, 2016

Growing Cassave for the school's soup

Cassava in Zahana
Cassava in Zahana's school garden

Some project reports are more challenging to write than others. Over the years we have been confronted with and reported about students going to school hungry, especailly in the beginning of the year (Madagascars' fall season) This is a sad occurrence for us, because the community is often too embarrassed to talk about it right away so we coul take action, becuase they had committed a few years back to take care of the school food themselves with great pride.

Fortunately our teacher Mparan has become very proactive over the years. He is ever expanding and experimenting with crops to grow in the school gardens that can ultimately go into the school food. Talk about farm to table with zero food miles.  The attached picture is of the latest crop of cassava growing in the schoolyard. Cassava roots can grow over a foot long, providing much-needed starch or carbohydrates, adding sustenance and bulk to the meal. In a two for one the cassava leaves are also used in soups as a the green vegetable, as a subsitute for sweet potato leaves. Cassava is one of the staples grown in rural Madagascar and is familiar to to our students.

To actively support his efforts we have committed of providing him with protein powder (again) to boost the soup’s nutritional value. Unfortunately such products are only available in the capital and need to be taken along to the villages during site visits.

Children infront of the health center
Children infront of the health center

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