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 5, 2012

We are cooking with the sun

Solar cooker made in Madagascar
Solar cooker made in Madagascar

In the pictures you see the first solar cookers waiting in the capital of Antananarivo to be taken to the school in our villages. Dr. Ihanta's grandson is diligently inspecting the new strange boxes in the hallway and they find his approval. All we need now is the end of the rainy season that makes the roads to the villages passable again, so the solar cookers can reach their final destination.

We anticipate that in the dry season, or any sunny day for that matter, the solar cookers can be used by the teachers and their students. Solar cookers are ideal to cook rice and soup for the school meals.

These solar cookers are entirely built in Madagascar by local craftsman, through the community benefit organization ADES (Association pour le Développement de l'Energie Solaire). These sturdy “box cookers” are built to last for years of continuous use. A Zahana representative spent a few days with ADES participating in their solar cooker training and brought these solar cooker boxes back as his “luggage”. We are very excited about this new collaboration and hope to work with ADES for years to come, benefiting from their experience in the south of the country for over a decade.

Ihanta, Jeannette, Markus

Inspecting the brochure and the solar cooker
Inspecting the brochure and the solar cooker
Checking out the additional pieces
Checking out the additional pieces
Build in thermometer under the glass lid
Build in thermometer under the glass lid
Mar 12, 2012

Planting trees in the rainy season

We just got a short report via SMS (or text message) from our villages: “Students and community planted: 5,550 trees in the village of Fiarenana. In Fiadanana 556 trees were planted by students and the women’s group”. 

Taking advantage of the rainy season to plant trees is the best way to assure that the seedlings may take root. We hope to post some pictures after the rainy season, when the roads become passable again.

Last but not least: Bonus Day will start on Wed. March 14th, 2012 at 12:01 am EST.  GlobalGiving will be matching online donations made on Bonus Day at 30% until the $50,000 in funds runs out. Last time the funds ran out before the end of the day, so please think of Zahana in Madagascar early on Bonus Day.

Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus

Links:

Mar 12, 2012

Planting sweet potatoes

Rice and Laoka -The Meal in Madagascar
Rice and Laoka -The Meal in Madagascar

Sweet potatoes are an important part of a traditional Malagasy diet, eaten in two ways: sweet potato leaves in ‘laoka” a leafy greens soup, traditionally eaten with rice at meals.  (See rice on our website).  The other way is to eat the boiled tubers, or sweet potatoes as the meal. Commonly eaten as a substitute by people who cannot afford or get rice, that Malagasy staple food #1. Currently sweet potatoes are grown and eaten in both of our villages. “Two varieties: white like potatoes and violet. People like the violet, because it is very sweet.”

In an attempt to diversify crops we have a plan: Get as many varieties of sweet potatoes we can get a hold of to our village master gardeners and see if they can successfully grow them in their climate. This might be as easy as getting somebody to visit the markets in the capital and buy all the varieties available, or as far reaching as having travelers bring some back from other parts of the country and contacting research institutions for other, or new varieties. Should a new variety prove successful sweet potato will become part of Zahana’s “Seed Fund”.

The cultural acceptance of sweet potatoes is very beneficial. Sweet potato leaves are highly nutritious and high in vitamin B, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, zinc and protein. Other compounds, such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have become the focus of research.  The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN) recommends to eat them daily. The tubers, or sweet potatoes themselves also have a high starch content, pro-vitamin A and a sugar that is easy to digest, even for diabetics. (Please contact us if you would like some scientific literature).

Last but not least: Bonus Day will start on Wed. March 14th, 2012 at 12:01 am EST.  GlobalGiving will be matching online donations made on Bonus Day at 30% until the $50,000 in funds runs out. We hope you might think of Zahana in Madagascar on Bonus Day.

Best regards,

Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus

Sweet potatoes in the market in the next town
Sweet potatoes in the market in the next town

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