We wanted to start this report with a big thank you Bary, our the second master gardener.
Over the years many of you have read reports about his activities and his incredible success in making our reforestation efforts possible. Over 10 years ago he came into his own, after his apprenticeship with our first gardener Jean in Fiarenana.
Thanks to his tireless efforts the school grounds in Fiadanana are transformed from a patch of grass to a shady tiny forest with mango and fruit trees. He has also single-handedly planted the largest number of trees in his community.
This year Bary informed us that after growing thousands of baby trees he was ready for a change. He passed on the baton to his wife and son, who are currently our paid gardeners in Fiadanana.
Much to our delight, he put his creativity into making improved cookstoves. Skillfully, he put his efforts into creating a model he can sell to people who don’t want to make their own, but are happy to buy one to use. Taking into account that using an improve cookstove at home is a prerequisite in the 2022/23 school year for parents who want their children to attend our schools, Bary is definitely meeting a market demand for his talent.
And yes, you may get many well-crafted appeals for donations this time of the year. If you are in the fortunate position to think about donations for 2022 we hope you might consider Zahana at these last few end of the year days.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
In our last project report we announced that the team in consultation with the community and the parent’s associations had decided on a new pre-requisit to attend a Zahana school: that the family uses an improved cookstove in their home. The public schools also adopted the new Zahana principle for school their attendance.
The use of improved Zahana cookstove as fee to attend Zahana school has helped to convince parents of the benefits of this approach, bringing small changes in their kitchen with big environmental impact. ‘Before’ numbers are from the last report. ‘Now’ are the 22/23 school year.
Before: 58% Now: 65.4% in Analakely
Before: 88,7% Now: 88.7% in Tsaramandroso
30% Now: 50% in Fiarenana
33% Now: 74.8% in Fiadanana
The biggest impact was in Fiadanana. With the biggest school, with now 2 buildings, almost 200 students and 5 teachers paid by Zahana they are our ‘first’ village. We built their first school in 2006. Over time we had the feeling the community in Fiadanana was becoming complacent and took Zahana’s presence for granted.
We are very happy to report, that a very simple formula ‘not using an improved cookstove = no kids in school’ spurred many parents to action. And we have the numbers to prove that: A jump from 33% to 75% in the adoption of improved cookstoves in their homes.
There are big changes coming that hopefully will impact the adoption of improved cookstoves.
Our new on-site coordinator Haja (since late 2021) collected baseline data of the adoption rate of improved cookstoves:
While the communities that joined Zahana recently are very eager in implementing improved cookstoves (and other Zahana ideas, such as the rice-bank) in their homes our ‘traditional’ Zahana villages leave much to be desired.
Why somebody would not want to switch to an improved cookstove that saves 75% of the energy needed to cook is not exactly clear to us. There are now also locally made improved cookstoves one could buy. We had a series of meetings to address this and, as a consequence of the facts learned from the data, two big changes have been decided:
Our teachers and gardeners that get a salary from Zahana have to be good community role models and use improved cookstoves in their homes. They are also encouraged, time permitting, to make their own bio-charcoal for cooking or buy is as cooking fuel in their community. There contracts have been amended accordingly to reflect this change.
Parents that want to send their children to Zahana’s school have to commit in writing to use improved cookstoves in their homes. This is a pre-condition to be admitted and we rely on peer support to assure this decision is implemented.
In Madagascar, Independence Day, June 26, is celebrated across the country. This important holiday is marked by various cultural events such as songs, folk song contests, and visiting villages for cultural dances and sports competitions.
Folklore part of the Independence Day festivities
No holiday is complete without dancing and folk songs celebrating the occasion in Madagascar. (See videos on our YouTube channel.) Each community performed their folk songs and dances created for the celebration.
Tsaramandroso made the improved cookstove and bio-charcoal the center piece of their dance. We only learnt during the Independence Day itself that they included Zahana activities as a theme or common thread for their folksong lyrics: Analakely presented the cookstove and bio-charcoal as well, plus, they gave us cakes made in the communal pastry oven and yoghurt made in the solar refrigerator - very tasty.
Moreover, the themes that each group has conveyed in their performances reflected the history of Zahana Association from its beginning: water supply, schools, health center, improved homes, bio-charcoal, reforestation, pastries, new cassava cultivation techniques and biological insect control.
Given the respective involvement and commitment of each village, and to honor their creativity, we have decided to consider all 4 groups from the 4 villages as winners: Fiarenanana, Fiadanana, Analakely and Tsaramandroso, each ‘won’ a box of pasta and cookies.
As a launching point, a vigil was organized at Fiadanana with a big campfire, to wait for June 26.
Zahana Soccer Cup
In our villages, young people organized a women's and a men's soccer ‘Zahana cup’ in conjunction with a folklore tournament for Independence Day. Eight participating teams for our 4 villages competed with the promise of a prize for the 2 finalists. The first qualifying match started April 10. Like a good soccer tournament, Zahana hired outside umpires to make the games as fair as possible. The men’s teams played 90 minutes, the women’s 60.
In the women's category: the score of the final game was 2 to 0 as the Tsaramandroso women’s club won 2 goals against 0 for Fiadanana.
Tsaramandroso’s women’s club won the first prize: a pig plus a brand new soccer ball. Fiadanana was entitled to a big box of pasta and biscuits and a new soccer ball. Pasta is considered a major prize and an exotic treat in a rice eating culture. The winning women’s team decided to raise the pig for breeding instead of preparing it for a big Independence Day feast. Raising pig has become a big part of our microcredit efforts. They stayed up all night in Tsaramandroso to mark their victory.
For the men's category: the Analakely club won against Tsaramandroso. During the normal time of the 90 minutes game, no goal was scored. The 2 teams demonstrated know-how worthy of professional players. As agreed, in the event of a tie, we proceed directly to the penalty shootout where each team has 5 chances to take a shot at the goal and score.
It was the Analakely team who obtained without fail their 5 goals against 3 for Tsaramandroso. The first prize for the winner in this case is a soccer ball and the equivalent of the prize of a pig. Analakely is identified as an Adventist community and a pig would not be appropriate. The second team enjoyed their new soccer ball and a big box of pasta and cookies that they displayed proudly in their dance.
We have noticed how football is the favorite sport in our villages and it is a great unifying experience that brings villages and communities together, since they visit each other to watch the games. All villages are within an hour’s walk from each other, so joining a neighbor in a game is within walking distance.
Improved cookstove is our most ambitious and new exciting project we have launched shortly before the pandemic. We started with the question or assumption: Why would you not use and improved cookstove you can make in one afternoon for free that saves you up top 75% of the energy you need to cook? Not cutting down a tree in the first place, by switching to improved cookstoves (and ideally later cooking with homemade bio-charcoal) is the most effective reforestation technique implemented in one afternoon. A grown tree already survived brushfires and other perils; letting it grow it where it is only works if you don't need the firewood to cook.
One of our younger team members is quite computer savvy. We asked him to focus during his next site visit if he noticed anything special about the improved cookstoves. His photos are taken with a cell phone. The tagline in his report: “Mr Daha and his wife make cookstoves for sale”. Their skill is well known in their own and the surrounding villages. The team agrees that they have invented one of the most innovative and spiffy looking improved cookstoves. It is also considered one the best.
Their improved cookstoves are made to order only, or on demand, on a one-to-one basis. Depending on the client’s needs and kichen layout they can make three models: A small, medium and large (the twin stove or two-burner model in the photo).
Making cookstoves to order also give them access to much needed cash as rice farmers. Translating the prices for improved cookstoves into a dollar amount creates a challenge without the cultural context. But it is safe to say, as a bench-mark: the smallest improved cookstoves cost about a one day’s wage of a day laborer.
PS: Our YouTube movie Combining reforestation with locally made improved cook stoves in Madagascar got a very fortunated boost in viewership in the last month!
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