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
Oct 2, 2014

Yes, we can plant trees!

Seedling grown by our gardeners
Seedling grown by our gardeners

Our reforestation project is making our gardener Bary’s dream a reality: to live in the sea of green in Fiadanana, surrounded by trees he can leave as a legacy for his children.

Most of the trees planted under the guidance of Zahana's gardeners have been growing well and seem to be strong. By now many are big enough to survive without being watered or tended to. Our team in Madagascar reported to us laughingly, that the best part is the villager’s amazement at themselves. Everybody is really surprised that reforestation works so well, despite the fact that all of them are farmers and work the land every day. In every meeting they mention the astonishing fact that planting new trees is indeed possible. In a rather barren landscape, dotted with few trees, it is one of our proudest and most visible achievements, really showing how participatory development can change the physical landscape. Instead of only cutting down trees as they have in the past (and still do in other places), people are now planting their future firewood. Our team in Madagascar said: “if you have to summarize our project in English the slogan ‘yes we can’ is most fitting”.

On a meta, or a broader political level, Zahana's impact is becoming far-reaching. Attending the inauguration of our health center, a few months ago, the brother of Madagascar's president and his wife visited our villages. Impressed by the clean water system, our schools, but most of all by seeing the planted trees, he keeps on calling our founder Dr. Ihanta on the phone, asking how she and Zahana achieved what we did. Since he has great passion for development work, he is aware that despite good intentions, many development initiatives run out of steam after one, two or three years. He expressed repeatedly that he was most impressed that Zahana is still going strong in its 8th year and seems to be increasing its impact every year. Not only is this a validation for us that our participatory development approach is indeed working, but it also shows that our results speak for themselves, and that two small villages in the middle of the high plateau of Madagascar can have a far-reaching impact.

Last but not least: Our gardeners continue, and always will, growing tree seedlings. Seedlings are distributed for free to support community and individual reforestation efforts. After all, this an ongoing, truly renewable program.

Community reforestation celebration
Community reforestation celebration
One day there will be a tree covered schoolyard
One day there will be a tree covered schoolyard
Bananas (not a tree) can give shade too
Bananas (not a tree) can give shade too
Jul 6, 2014

Inaugurating the new intergated health center

Fiadanana
Fiadanana's health center

This is a project report that is a great pleasure to post. It affects every facet of our work as it impacts everybody living in our villages.

It is our great privilege and honor to announce that the Health Center in our village of Fiadanana has been officially inaugurated at the end of May 2014! As you cann see in the pictures and on our website, the students of Zahana's school played a key role in welcoming the visitors and dignitaries from governmental and regional agencies.

Now, after an official ribbon cutting ceremony, the healthcare center is ready to see patients. One of our proudest achievements is that the new health center will host the community’s own traditional healer Raleva to work side-by-side with a Ministry of Health certified trained midwife. To have such a true healing center in our village has been a dream for the community and Zahana since our very first community meeting over a decade ago. (See health center’s groundbreaking 2013.)

Raleva is one of the most respected and revered traditional healers in this part of the country. People travel far to see him and solicit his treatment advice. To honor him, and to pay him the respect that is due by providing him with a modern building where he can practice his healing art, is a very joyous occasion for Zahana. Zahana’s founder, Dr. Ihanta, told us laughingly, in a Skype conversation: “most people assume that a traditional healer is there to assist the Western trained midwife. I'm quite sure, in our case this will be the other way around and the Western trained person will work with or may be under the guidance off our highly respected traditional healer. We really like the English expression hand-in-hand to describe this relationship. Yes, we will, for instance, vaccinate all of our children with the help of the paramedic, or use antibiotics where this is the best treatment option, as part of integrating Western medicine in our Health Center. ‘Do no harm’ is our guiding principal in all of this”.

This health center inauguration gives us again a great opportunity to showcase to everybody visiting our village the importance of access to clean and safe water. There are thousands of communities in Madagascar that desperately need access to basic healthcare, but the fact that our village does indeed already have access to clean and safe drinking water made the French NGO decided to build the health center in our village.

Clean and safe drinking water remains the most effective public health measure for Zahana. It was priority #1 for the community, when we started with our participatory development in 2005. This is again illustrated in the fact, as Dr. Ihanta, Zahana's founder and a physician herself, said: "We don't need diarrhea medication or prevention, because we don't have diarrhea anymore, since the village has clean drinking water. For me as a medical doctor the most rewarding result is that no child, or adult for that matter, has died of water borne diseases, since we have clean water. It could well be that the villagers themselves are not aware of that, but for me as a physician and a parent, this is the most important and significant indicator I can think of. We determined this very important finding already over two years ago, and I am very happy this has not changed since.” Later in the conversation she added: “It is also a great savings for the Ministry of Health if we don’t have to spend money on medication or treatment of preventable diseases.  This may not be too familiar for a Western audience, but in a country with scares resources this is an important factor”.

As you can see in the photos, dignitaries and representatives from different branches of government attended our health center opening. The actual ribbon cutting was by a representative of the Ministry of Water. We thought it was very important to show them firsthand by having them come into our village, that a community built water system is not only feasible, but also working very well. (See water story.)   It is a great honor for us and the community he was joined (in the photo) by the brother of the President of Madagascar and his wife.

In some of the other pictures you see that Zahana was able to show to the visiting dignitaries the solar water pasteurization in action. The school of our sister village Fiarenana has been using solar water pasteurization successfully for over two years for all of the drinking water needs for their students. Since solar water pasteurization only works if the sun is shining, they have to resort to boiling water on cloudy or rainy days. Again, at Zahana we believe that seeing the results of our work might have bigger impact than just hearing about an abstract concept of solar water pasteurization.

We have posted more photos on our website, since it is hard to choose only six from so many. It is especially wonderful to see all the students proudly welcoming the visitors to their village.  

Ihanta and Markus

Cutting the ribbon for the new health center
Cutting the ribbon for the new health center
Students welcoming the guests
Students welcoming the guests
Children welcoming the visitors
Children welcoming the visitors
Learning about solar water pasteurization
Learning about solar water pasteurization
The stundets of the community built school
The stundets of the community built school
Jul 5, 2014

Health Center Inauguration

Medical supplies for the new health center
Medical supplies for the new health center

This is a project report that is a great pleasure to post. It affects every facet of our work as it impacts everybody living in our villages.

It is our great privilege and honor to announce that the Health Center in our village of Fiadanana has been officially inaugurated at the end of May 2014!

Now, after an official ribbon cutting ceremony, the healthcare center is ready to see patients. One of our proudest achievements is that the new health center will host the community’s own traditional healer Raleva to work side-by-side with a Ministry of Health certified trained midwife. To have such a true healing center in our village has been a dream for the community and Zahana since our very first community meeting over a decade ago. (See health center’s groundbreaking 2013.)

Raleva is one of the most respected and revered traditional healers in this part of the country. People travel far to see him and solicit his treatment advice. To honor him, and to pay him the respect that is due by providing him with a modern building where he can practice his healing art, is a very joyous occasion for Zahana. Zahana’s founder, Dr. Ihanta, told us laughingly, in a Skype conversation: “most people assume that a traditional healer is there to assist the Western trained midwife. I'm quite sure, in our case this will be the other way around and the Western trained person will work with or may be under the guidance off our highly respected traditional healer. We really like the English expression hand-in-hand to describe this relationship. Yes, we will, for instance, vaccinate all of our children with the help of the paramedic, or use antibiotics where this is the best treatment option, as part of integrating Western medicine in our Health Center. ‘Do no harm’ is our guiding principal in all of this”.

This health center inauguration gives us again a great opportunity to showcase to everybody visiting our village the importance of access to clean and safe water. There are thousands of communities in Madagascar that desperately need access to basic healthcare, but the fact that our village does indeed already have access to clean and safe drinking water made the French NGO decided to build the health center in our village.

Clean and safe drinking water remains the most effective public health measure for Zahana. It was priority #1 for the community, when we started with our participatory development in 2005. This is again illustrated in the fact, as Dr. Ihanta, Zahana's founder and a physician herself, said: "We don't need diarrhea medication or prevention, because we don't have diarrhea anymore, since the village has clean drinking water. For me as a medical doctor the most rewarding result is that no child, or adult for that matter, has died of water borne diseases, since we have clean water. It could well be that the villagers themselves are not aware of that, but for me as a physician and a parent, this is the most important and significant indicator I can think of. We determined this very important finding already over two years ago, and I am very happy this has not changed since.” Later in the conversation she added: “It is also a great savings for the Ministry of Health if we don’t have to spend money on medication or treatment of preventable diseases.  This may not be too familiar for a Western audience, but in a country with scares resources this is an important factor”.

As you can see in the photos, dignitaries and representatives from different branches of government attended our health center opening. The actual ribbon cutting was by a representative of the Ministry of Water. We thought it was very important to show them firsthand by having them come into our village, that a community built water system is not only feasible, but also working very well. (See water story.)   It is a great honor for us and the community he was joined (in the photo) by the brother of the President of Madagascar and his wife.

In some of the other pictures you see that Zahana was able to show to the visiting dignitaries the solar water pasteurization in action. The school of our sister village Fiarenana has been using solar water pasteurization successfully for over two years for all of the drinking water needs for their students. Since solar water pasteurization only works if the sun is shining, they have to resort to boiling water on cloudy or rainy days. Again, at Zahana we believe that seeing the results of our work might have bigger impact than just hearing about an abstract concept of solar water pasteurization.

We have posted more photos on our website, since it is hard to choose only six from so many. It is especially wonderful to see all the students proudly welcoming the visitors to their village.  

Ihanta and Markus

Dignitaries arriving for the inauguration
Dignitaries arriving for the inauguration
Students welcoming the guests
Students welcoming the guests
The health center building
The health center building
Solar water pasteurizer models
Solar water pasteurizer models
Children waiting for the guest and visitors
Children waiting for the guest and visitors
 
   

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