One aspect of SSAAP which is unique to many development projects overseas is the donation of land specifically for the project. The Project Director was given land by three village headmen of the adjacent villages Siamabwe, Simoono and Sibooli-B and was asked to return by numerous friends in the village explicitly for the sake of completing a large-scale sustainable agricultural and arts project.
The agricultural aspect of the project will be organized as follows. In rural Zambia, villages consist of the various community groups, already formed. Examples include: womens’ groups, bee-keeping groups, HIV/AIDS groups, malaria groups, basketry groups, traditional arts & crafts groups and carpentry groups, to name a few.
For SSAAP, the groups will organize themselves and will form committees within their prospective groups. Each group will have a committee, consisting of a President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Zambians enjoy this kind of group organization. After forming committees, each group will receive a plot of land on which to raise vegetables. We use the term ‘Community Garden’, similar to those in the U.S.A. and other developed countries, minus the fee for the plot of land.
After the land has been cleared, and the groups indicate their seriousness about the project, the groups' committees will distribute the seeds to those who are willing and want to work on behalf of their groups, families, etc. It is the responsibility of each community group to determine how to organize themselves.
Growing vegetables will help, ideally, to combat a three-fold problem in rural Zambia: starvation, lethargy, and malnutrition. The mission of the agricultural aspect of SSAAP, then, is:
Natural resources of Zambia are plenty. They include copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, coal, emeralds, amethyst, gold, silver, uranium, and hydropower. Only 6.99% of Zambia’s land is arable, however, and the irrigated land used in Zambia consists of 1,560 sq. km, as of 2003 (source: world wide web).The life-expectancy of Zambians is the fifth-lowest in the world (source: The Economist, 2007). The average male lives to be 38.34 years old, whereas the average female lives to be 38.54 years of age. Starvation, malnutrition, and infant mortality are common occurrences in the villages of Zambia.
The rural areas of Zambia are deeply neglected. For the most part, the town areas in Zambia are targeted for much of the material and sustainable benefits provided from the NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), aid through foreign countries, and projects that the Embassies in Lusaka are conducting for the betterment of Zambia through development agencies. The towns benefit primarily from NGO and donor aid money far more than the rural areas of Zambia.
In the village areas, there are many community groups and clubs working together with various missions and goals. Although these community groups have many ideas, they are unable to proactively work for various reasons. Perhaps there is too much work to be done at home, too much work to be done on the fields, or other obligations. The projects and plans of the collective community groups fall to the wayside.
Land is an asset to any community, to any project in development. The main selling point of this project is that the people, who have entrusted SSAAP, have granted it land. It is an unfortunate fact many Zambians do not trust NGOs, foreign aid agencies, and donors from Western countries. Too many times, they have been promised things from foreigners - from western aid agencies or development funds - and have been disenchanted by the outcome, which is usually exceedingly less than the original promise. Another hardship that the rural village communities have endured from donor agencies is the attitude that many donor agencies exhibit. Rather than performing community entry tasks - such as learning about the culture and asking the people what they need to improve the condition of their lives - the donor agencies have decided for the people what they deem necessary to change in the village. Perhaps it is new toilets (cimbuzis) or a new bore hole (cikuju). The fault rests in not asking the people what they want or what areas they need to be helped, and too often the new cikuju is erected in a place where it will not benefit the masses, or new cimbuzis are made with iron roofs which fall apart after a few years. The community - not having the money for new iron roofing sheets - cannot maintain them.
Barging into a community and deciding for the people what they need without their consent is not sustainable development, it is not proactive, and it is not ethical.
SSAAP will be a prosperous project if put into the hands of people it serves. It must have a pure intention: making the village a better place for its people.
One of SSAAP's goals is to provide leadership, as well as to organize the community and to work with the committees working on the project. Another goal is to empower women, men, individuals and groups.
Perhaps, for example, nine initial community groups are interested in participating:
The interested groups will be instructed to hold meetings individually to elect committees consisting of a chairman, vice-chairman, secretary, and treasurer to be part of SSAAP. Once all of the groups have elected committees SSAAP will hold a large meeting with the committees of those groups to discuss the following:
i. How large each group’s plot of land should be
Future Program Goals
In time, because the people of the Simwatachela Catchment Area are enthusiastic and hard-working, their vegetables and crops will produce income which could be used to purchase materials for their respective community groups. For example, bee-keeping groups could use such income to purchase jars to sell the honey made from the bees. This could potentially better the lives of those involved, as well as provide a source of food and nutrients to feed their families and communities. As the project expands, more and more plots of land could be sectioned out to interested community groups. Those already working can aid those who are newer to the project. In time, a school could be erected in which to teach the children of those who are working on the land, and the teacher(s) could be paid through means of income generated on the farm or in-kind, through vegetables or maize. Courses in agriculture, farming sustainability, seed-drying, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, organization and planning, arts and crafts of traditional Zambian culture, organic farming, carpentry, hygiene, sanitation or bee-keeping could be taught by various members of the community.
The project would be able to draw upon the resources in the area, such as already-existing government-related projects or church-related projects, as well as other NGO/donor-operating projects. For example, a retired school teacher in the community or a person from the church could become involved in the project and could distribute skills and knowledge to the people. Government-supported outreach health workers at the nearby Simwatachela Rural Health Center (RHC) could also become involved, teaching small classes and holding workshops on their wealth of knowledge. Volunteers from the church could also hold small classes on Bible lessons and studies.
Objectives and Aims
Women: approximately 100,750 women
Involvement of Target Groups
The target groups within Simwatachela Rural Community provided land specifically for the purpose of starting a sustainable agricultural program which would in-turn enhance the quality of their everyday lives. Each community group (i.e. Womens’ Groups, Malaria Groups, Farmers Associations, Basket-Weaving Groups, Craft-making Groups) will garden a small portion of the land. Seeds have been donated from various seed companies and individuals from seed exchanging programs in the States. With the growth of vegetables, people can eat more plentifully and nutritiously.
Involvement of Women
Women play the most significant role in this agricultural project as the women in the community are the ones responsible for the upkeep of the small community gardens, the homes, the children, the laundry, and everything else associated with daily living. Men in rural Zambian villages tend to control the families and hold meetings amongst themselves but the women are the prime workers and laborers in the community. They are responsible for keeping their families alive. The women are the hard-workers on the subsistence farms for the individual families.
Relevance to Development
Development is essential to Simwatachela Rural Community. As the people are enthusiastic and hard-working, they are open-minded concerning any project in the community that will improve the conditions of their lives: more food, better nutrition for their families, water – both potable and for washing the clothes, children, and watering vegetables, schools, clinics, better homes, better toilets, and medicine. They are willing to work hard to attain these things. In the past I have observed them to work very hard for the things which will change their lives for the better and help to alleviate the distress of poverty from weighing down their happiness. This project will implement more food, better nutrition, and water to the area. This will improve the lives of the people, their animals (cattle, goats, chickens, etc.) and will overall generate a better lifestyle for them.
Result to be Achieved
The Simwatachela Rural Community will have access to more variety and an abundance of food where there was not before. This will help to reduce hunger and malnutrition, starvation where there is plenty in the village. With any excess produce, the groups can sell and generate a small amount of income for their prospective community groups. With this income the community groups can pursue individual projects such as the Womens’ Groups buying more yarn to weave babies’ sweaters which can then be sold – yielding more money – or the Bee-Keeping Group buying jars to sell honey in. Within the year, the community at-large hopes to create a meeting hall/community center where seminars on the following topics will be taught: Organization and Planning Skills, Organic Farming, Women and Gender Equality, Arts and Crafts of the Native Tonga People, Basic Woodworking and Carpentry, Knitting and Sewing, Cooking for All [with emphasis on nutrition], Avoiding Malaria, and so forth. We would like to have a traditional African medicine man/healer (N’ganga) on-site for the project who will aid in helping the sick to heal.
The land is extremely fertile, however lacks sufficient water during certain months of the year (specifically August through October). The land is fairly flat, perfect for farming, and slopes a bit in one direction. This is the specific place where we will erect the dam. The land is grayish in color, and is sandy loam soil.
The Engineers Without Borders were requested to help with this project and have accepted SSAAP's invitation to work as a partnership team.
There is a stream in the area which stretches approximately eight to nine kilometers. The dam is intended to have a width of approximately fifty-five meters across, and the weir will run perpendicularly to the stream. The dam itself will not be very large, probably not more than 1,000 feet in diameter. There is water in the stream half of the year: during November, December, January, February and March. The rest of the year it is dry, thus yielding no water and leaving the land dry.
The land is dry, loamy soil - not cleared as of now. There exists the issue of water-seepage, and the inability of the sandy land to conserve water, but with the passage of time, water-holding capacity of the dam will improve. Trees and grasses will be planted along the outer perimeters of the dam which aid in preventing erosion along with bringing in less silt into the weir. Initially the dam will require silt and clay from the soil, but after the first layer of silt has invaded the weir naturally, excess silt will be prevented through the aid of the trees and grasses planted around the perimeter of the dam.
We can expect the natural process of the dam to be as such:
Additionally, there are many medicinal trees which grow on the land which will not be cleared for the purpose of the future N’ganga Clinic.
The dam will be dug in the deepest place possible, on a slope of approximately twenty degrees. This will aid the natural flow of water to collect into one central place. The various pipes leading out of the dam will benefit others downstream.
The dam will be strengthened through use of local materials outside its parameter, such as reeds and grasses, growing alongside the weir so as to seal the sandy soil from dissolving into the dam and thus devastating it.
Location of Land
The land is located in Southern Province, Zambia, rural Kalomo: approximately 70 kilometers from Kalomo town, and ten kilometers from Kabanga Mission. The Kabanga Road eventually leads to Mapatizya Mines, which mine anything from amethyst to copper and other minerals.
Land coordinates of the area are: 17” 35’ 00. 00 S, 26” 46’ 00. 00 E.
An Environmentally-Sound Project
Compost Versus Slash-and-Burn Method
The culture of the Tonga people of Southern Province, Zambia is such that they deeply revere the ‘slash and burn’ method of clearing land: burning the land to prepare it for next season’s harvest. This present system, is the ‘slash and burn’ method. This is not a sustainable method of agricultural farming and in fact has no inherent value, yielding the land fertile for only a short two to three years. The method we are aiming for in the project is called intensification and will not only be sustainable but will also increase the overall health of the environment.
Instead of burning, SSAAP will convert the materials that come from living plants (i.e. crop waste such as grasses, straw, vegetable peels) into a large pit which will then create compost. This improves the soil’s ability to maintain moisture. Also manure from the cattle will be applied. This will add nutrients to both the soil and will help to provide nutrition to crops.
Insect repellent can be made indigenously, to keep pests away from crops, and can be made with leaves from already-growing trees, weeds, and things growing in the bush. We will conduct research in finding only eco-friendly pest-control methods to use on the land.
No chemicals or chemical fertilizer is to be used on the land (with the exception of pest-control on the vegetables) as it is expensive and non-sustainable.
SSAAP will grow and harvest crops that have symbiotic relationships to one another. For example, maize-beans-squash have a symbiotic relationship. Maize supports beans to grow, the beans fix the nitrogen in the soil for the maize and squash to grow, and the squash provides shade and reduces evaporation for the roots of beans and corn. These three crops are known as ‘The Three Sisters’ to the sacred earth.
Importance of Medicinal Plants
Plants were once a primary source of all the medicines in the world and they continue to provide mankind with new remedies. Natural products and their derivatives represent more than 50% of all drugs in clinical use in the world. Higher plants contribute no less than 25% of the total. Well-known examples of plant-derived medicines include quinine, morphine, codeine, and aspirin.
All parts of a plant may be used medicinally: roots, bulbs, rhizomes, tubers, bark, leaves, stems, flowers, fruits, seeds, gums, exudates, and nectar. However, the active ingredients (chemical compounds) in leaves, roots or bark - for example - are often quite different. One part may be extremely toxic while another part quite harmless. For this reason, the whole plant is therefore rarely used together to generate a single medicine.
Each system of medicine is an art and science of diagnosing the cause of disease, treating diseases, and maintaining health in the broadest sense of physical, spiritual, social and physical well-being. Each culture has found solutions in the preventative, promotion, and curative aspects of health that resonate in harmony with the world view of that culture. Western medicine may diagnose a disease in terms of a bacterial infection, for example, and treat that infection with antibiotics. An African traditional healer will seek to understand why the patient became ill in the first place, and the treatment administered will address the perceived cause, usually in addition to specific therapies to alleviate the signs and symptoms of the condition.
To conserve the indigenous ecosystem, for every community group that participates in the project, we will plant two indigenous trees in the areas in which there is no erosion. The issue here is the indigenous trees against the new imported trees, which have little to no indigenous inherent healing value to the medicine men (n’gangas) in the village. Planting indigenous trees will promote the work and health of the traditional healing methods of then’gangas. This will aid in the following:
Thus, SSAAP will plant trees which have multiple benefits and purposes. With crop intensification, for example, it will become possible to allow some of the area to revert to forest again. This is the best form of carbon sequestration.
SSAAP’s central mission is to alleviate hunger through the community’s proactive efforts in planting seeds, done through respective community gardens, as well as to use the excess produce to feed their families, to generate income and to further projects in their villages.A friend in the States donated a large portion of seeds entirely for the sake of this project at SSAAP’s beginning stages in 2008. A few seed exchange groups and other established seed companies who believed in the philosophy behind SSAAP were also willing to invest in SSAAP and, thus, gave a donation of some seeds towards its mission. After the land has been cleared, and the community groups indicate their interest in the project, SSAAP’s coordinators will distribute the seeds to those who are willing and want to work. Growing vegetables will help, ideally:
However, obtaining seeds from donors is not sustainable, and thus community groups must learn how to preserve seeds to re-use season after season, learn how to dry seeds and arrange an organized drying system for the seeds within their respective community groups, or to identify a sustainable source of seeds for the future, thus securing seeds for each season from the previous seasons. With the growth of vegetables, people can eat more plentifully and nutritiously. Taking advantage of the water once the dam has been erected, groups will plant seeds which will grow quickly through the rainfall. Groups will harvest the vegetables, eat and/or sell vegetables, then dry seeds for future seed multiplicity for future use. Multiplying and preserving the seeds which will serve as a key to the betterment of the lives for the communities of Simwatchela.
Various Committees for the Project and their Responsibilities