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
Apr 12, 2015

Planting trees despite the cyclone weather

Reforestation worked wonders in the school yard
Reforestation worked wonders in the school yard

Madagascar has experienced an exceptionally devastating cyclone season in early 2015. The severe weather and rain caused a lot of damage and made roads impassable and unsafe. We sent our founder’s nephew, a strong young man, who had to walk the last 20 kilometers on foot to reach our villages.

Dr. Ihanta, Zahana’s founder, sent us this explanatory background note: “The weather was terrible and most of people were forced to stay in their houses most of the time. In our capital many houses collapsed due to the rain and mudslides on the steep hillsides. Unbelievable, but since January it was raining everyday.  We learnt that the last timr we had a similar flood in Madagascar was in 1959 and it was also very serious."

When her nephew checked on the reforestation progress he filed this report (short and concise as usual):

Fiarenana: Planting trees became an habit in the village. The latest numbers to report are:

  • Orange trees 57
  • Papaya 13
  • Local fruit trees 43
  • Eucalyptus 4,494

Fiadanana: International Woman Day: Activity was planting trees. Accounting for recently planted trees:

  • Eucalyptus 2,300
  • Mangos 250
  • Natalys trees 30 [a big shade three with small little leaves]
  • Fruit trees 74
The schoolyard in Fiarenana in a panorama shot
The schoolyard in Fiarenana in a panorama shot
Apr 10, 2015

Surving the cyclone and feeding our students

Doing the dishes after school lunch
Doing the dishes after school lunch

Madagascar has experienced an exceptionally devastating cyclone season in early 2015. The severe weather and rain caused a lot of damage. Our team had tried to visit our villages in late January to make sure they were OK after the first big cyclone. They were unable to reach the villages and the driver had to turn around, since the roads were impassable and unsafe. We later sent our founder’s nephew, a strong young man, who had to walk the last 20 kilometers on foot to reach our villages.

“The roof and the door of our school in Fiarenana was damaged by the cyclone (it will be repaired by the community, financed by their school treasury). The parents’ association and students are in the process of replacing, respectively replanting, some trees in the school yard that were broken down by the cyclone. Some rice paddy were invaded by sand-flooding”

Dr. Ihanta, Zahana’s founder, sent us this explanatory background note: “The weather was terrible and most of people were forced to stay in their houses most of the time. In our capital many houses collapsed due to the rain and mudslides on the steep hillsides. Unbelievable, but since January it was raining everyday.  We learnt that the last previous similar flood in Madagascar was in 1959 and it was also very serious.

Many of students came to the school in the hope of finding food (bad weather combined with the fear of starvation), so Zahana provide noodles for soup. On a happier note we have included the latest photos (taken with my nephew’s cell phone) of the food being served in the courtyard of our school in Fiarenana.” Note: if you look at the ground you can see that it is still very wet, even if the weather looks ‘nice’.

Distributing the soup
Distributing the soup
Soup bowls all lined up for lunch
Soup bowls all lined up for lunch
Waiting patiently (and hungry) to start
Waiting patiently (and hungry) to start
The entire gazebo is full of hungry kids
The entire gazebo is full of hungry kids
Fixing the school garden
Fixing the school garden
Apr 9, 2015

Introducing a new rice variety in a pilot project

The new rice variety after the first harvest
The new rice variety after the first harvest

Improving crops and agricultural yields has always been the backbone of our microcredit projects. Our team in Madagascar has been continuously exploring different options to accomplish that (see Artemisia).

In the spring of 2013 representatives of Nestlé made a presentation at the Ministry of health about an improved rice variety a, a seed known as “Nerica”. This new rice variety ‘Nercia’ is a result of crossing two varieties of rice seeds.  It is enriched with zinc and iron, both a very important mineral for health, that are sadly very much lacking in Madagascar's nutrition.

Our founder, Dr. Ihanta, a medical doctor by training, was very interested in the prospect of these new seeds and the ability to increase the availability of zinc and iron.  The rate of anemia is extremely high among women and children in the entire country of Madagascar, and consequently also in our villages. The company got the ministry's approval to run a few pilot projects in Madagascar.  Zahana was chosen as one of their pilot sites.

Initially 10 families participated in the community of Fiadanana. Five families planted seeds suitable for rice paddies (paddies are fed by a permanent water source, such as a well) and five in rain-fed rice fields. An engineer from Nestlé visited the villages regularly to assist with know-how and to monitor and document the process. In addition she studied how rice was traditionally stored, cooked, and consumed in the villages. All costs related to the pilot project were covered by Nestlé; from the seeds to the engineer’s repeated visits to the village.

Two of the photos show the yields of the first harvest that was very promising. Some of the community members decided to participate the second year to see if the seed can indeed provide higher yields than what they had been traditionally planting. The village of Fiarenana has also requested to be included in future pilot projects

The your seedling of Nercia are sprouting well
The your seedling of Nercia are sprouting well
Nercia rice variety doing well
Nercia rice variety doing well
Rice harvest promises to be successful
Rice harvest promises to be successful
Rice harvest promises to be successful
Rice harvest promises to be successful
Nestle
Nestle's technician with Jean our master gardener
 
   

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