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Apr 6, 2009

Green Challenge for Zahana from GlobalGiving

April 3, 2009

We have great news: Our sister project “Solar Cookers for the School in Fiadanana” has been awarded the “Green Leaf” form GlobalGiving and invited to join their “Give a Little Green!” Challenge.

This Green Challenge is for projects by invitation only. Starting Saturday, April 4 and running through Tuesday, April 28, 2009 all donations up to $5,000 per individual made to our solar cooker project will receive an additional 50% match from GlobalGiving*.

In addition to matching funds, Zahana can compete for additional funding! The three projects receiving the greatest number of individual donations will receive extra prizes of $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000, respectively.

We need to act fast! Let’s get the matching funds as long as they last. With a minimum of $10 dollars becoming $15 with the click of the mouse, please consider donating now to our twin project in our original pilot site of Fiadanana Please tell your friends about this exciting opportunity provided by GlobalGiving in honor of the upcoming Earth Day.

Please pass this email on within your network.

Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus

PS: Check out the website of the BlazingTubeSolarAppliance. We hope to test this innovative solar cooker in Fiadanana as part of our solar efforts as soon as possible.

* That means for every dollar you donate, Zahana will receive another $0.50. The match will be available from April 4 to April 28 only or until $25,000 in matching funds have been depleted. Even if matching funds are depleted, the challenge portion of the campaign will continue until April 28th.

Links:

Mar 16, 2009

Update on the recent situation in Madagascar

Dear friends,

Some of you read about Madagascar in the news and contacted us, so we wanted to send a short message. Thanks to email, text messaging and Skype we have been in constant contact with our partners in Madagascar and they are fine. One thing becomes obvious: we have to increase our efforts in rural participatory development and education.

Zahana has been focusing on making village life more attractive and livable so people don't have to leave their village in the first place in search of a better life. This can be done for example by providing development partnerships to built access to clean water or a school for their children.

Almost a decade back Madagascar experienced a very tumultuous political situation and as a result many people fled the cities in search of safety in countryside. In the case of the village of Fiadanana, Zahana's pilot village, its population increased by 20% and after the political situation stabilized most of the newcomers decided to stay, since they discovered the advantages of the rural over the city life.

We encourage you to frequent your trusted news sources for more information. We find http://www.newsnow.co.uk/h/?search=madagascar&searchheadlines=1 very useful, since it lists many languages as links.

Please write to us directly if you want more information. Please use the email provided at the bottom of the project description.

Zahana has conducted an assessment of solar cookers currently available in Madagascar in December. Having chosen a first model for testing in the school, the teacher traveled to the capital of Antananarivo in February for training in using this model. Unfortunately the political instability caused the training course to be canceled and he went back to Fiadanana as soon as possible, since busses stopped running regularly. Living in the countryside he also had no idea of the turmoil in the capital and was all too happy to be able to leave for home again.

Unfortunately for Zahana we need to wait until trucks are willing to transport the cooker to the village once again and another training for the teacher can be scheduled.

Mar 16, 2009

Update on Madagascar from Zahana

Some of you read or might soon read about Madagascar in the news. some of you contacted us already, so we wanted to send a short message.

Thanks to email, text messaging and Skype we have been in constant contact with our partners in Madagascar and they are fine. One thing becomes obvious: we have to increase our efforts in rural participatory development and education.

Zahana has been focusing on making village life more attractive and livable so people don't have to leave their village in the first place in search of a better life. This can be done for example by providing development partnerships to built access to clean water or a school for their children.

Almost a decade back Madagascar experienced a very tumultuous political situation and as a result many people fled the cities in search of safety in countryside. In the case of the village of Fiadanana, Zahana's pilot village, its population increased by 20% and after the political situation stabilized most of the newcomers decided to stay, since they discovered the advantages of the rural over the city life.

We encourage you to frequent your trusted news sources for more information. We find http://www.newsnow.co.uk/h/?search=madagascar&searchheadlines=1 useful, since it lists many languages as links.

Please write to us directly if you want more information.

But despite the disturbing news out participatory development efforts in two villages in Madagascar continue.

Based on the ties established with the community of Fiarenana in October 2008 a formal meeting was held in February 2009.

To demonstrate their willingness to collaborate with Zahana they have already made 13,000 bricks for a future school building. In contrast to many other villages over 80% of the parents had gone to school as children themselves, can all read and write, and see the value and need for education for their children. The community envisions a school building that could become a leaning center for agriculture, health education and rural improvement that would function more as a rural university than a grade school in the traditional sense.

Decisions made at the February meeting:

Drinking water As with most villages, safe drinking water is the biggest need. In this meeting it was decided to first improve the existing community well (see photos on the website) by building a permanent, covered structure, using the bricks that can support the hand pump supplied by Zahana. Since this community well represents their history and tradition, improving it was decided to be better then digging a new one.

Papaya Each family will plant 7 papaya trees: 2 trees for the family's consumption and 5 where the fruits can be sold, either as dried fruits or fresh in the market in nearby Bevato.

SRI The community requested training in SRI, the System of Rice Intensification. SRI was developed over two decades ago in Madagascar and can dramatically improve yields, doubling or even tripling crop yields at times. (Cornell University SRI http://ciifad.cornell.edu/sri/). SRI has been very successful around the globe, but only works if a community is willing to learn about and adopt new planting techniques.

Increasing coffee production Coffee is already grown in the village, but also consumed there. This is a great savings as cash does not leave the community to buy coffee. This cultivation will be intensified to supply neighboring villages and the community of Bevato. Traditionally farmers must supply coffee at harvest time to everybody working in their fields, so then the need for coffee is great.

Staying in touch, or the marvels of modern technology: Staying in touch with remote village communities can be challenging when Zahana members have to travel for over 5 hours to get there, if the roads are passable and there is no mail service or busses that go there. Fortunately the village of Fiarenana has cell phone coverage.

Zahana bought a cell/mobile phone for the community of Fiarenana. They formed a committee of 4 representatives that are entitled to use it. If they have an issue to discuss with Zahana they send a text message/SMS and Zahana calls them back.

All cell phones in Madagascar only work with pre paid minutes, but incoming calls are free, since the caller pays for the calls. Therefore the cost for the villagers to talk to Zahana is minimal (just for the SMS) and Zahana pays for the minutes of the call on their end. All Zahana needs to do is to recharge the phone with more minutes every few months, so the number does not expire and there is now a direct lifeline to exchange ideas and news with Fiarenana.

But Fiarenana has no electricity. To recharge the cell phone's battery they need to walk over and hour to the next small town of Bevato to pay to get it recharged there. This service currently costs 2500 FMG (about 25 US cents) per charge with the use of a generator.

This is the first time that such a fancy high tech device has been available for the villagers.

 
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