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SSAAP is located in the Southern Province of Zambia, Sub-Saharan Africa. SSAAP-Headquarters is stationed 8 km from Kabanga, which is a rural setting four hours by unpaved road from the nearest town of Kalomo. 



Here is a map of Africa, identifying Zambia's presence in Southern Africa.



^ Here is a map of Africa, identifying Sierra Leone's presence in West Africa.

 An enlarged map of Sierra Leone, above. Note SSAAP-Headquarters in Sierra Leone is in Moyamba, its office located at the Moyamba District Library, Southern Province, Sierra Leone. SSAAP does outreach work in the villages outside of Port Loko, alongside Grace Children's Foundation, located in the Northwestern area of the nation. 

Sustainable Agriculture Overview

SSAAP is working with partners to aide Simwatachela, Zambia as well as various parts of Freetown, Sierra Leone with both potable water (for drinking) as well as non-potable water (for agricultural purposes) through wells - both hand-dug as well as machine-drilled.


Sustainable Agriculture and Water Model:

One aspect of SSAAP which is unique to many development projects overseas is the donation of land by the people specifically for the people and the project itself. SSAAP was donated 140 hectares of land by three village headmen of the adjacent villages Siamabwe, Simoono and Sibooli-B under the notion that the land would be neutral territory for the project to aid and benefit people from all three villages. The land was donated by the three headmen, and approved by the late Chief Simwatachela, explicitly for the sake of undergoing a large-scale sustainable agricultural and arts project to span at least a decade and to outreach to the most vulnerable members of the society.

The agricultural goal of SSAAP is tri-fold:

  1. to aid in hunger problems in the village
  2. to provide a source of nutrition
  3. to provide income from selling produce, goods and other materials

Water has become the centralized focus of the project at-present. Without water, there is no food. Without water, in many regards, there is no life. Thus SSAAP is working to promote potable drinking water in the following ways:

  • working with Engineers Without Borders-Mississippi University chapter for large-scale water project
  • working with Stanley British Primary School, Denver, Colorado towards donation of water filters to rural schools without water
  • working with DAPP-Zambia to hand-dig wells for families/small communities in villages
  • working with Denver Rotary Club to fund boreholes in Zambia and Sierra Leone
  • working with Denver Rotary Club to fund hand-dug wells in rural Sierra Leone


The purpose of water in SSAAP: In the Simwatachela community of Zambia, in various regions the water is scarcely a mud hole
in the ground from which 2500+ people are drinking; in the rainy
season (mainza) the water hole fills and overflows to produce a small
stream. At this stage, the water is contaminated by ground rodents
such as rats, mice and other scavengers unfit to be drinking. As well, with the water flowing during mainza, ground feces of cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens and even humans has been known to contaminate the water. The
unclean drinking water causes a plethora of diseases, including both
giardia and malaria (open water hole attracts mosquitoes).

Possible solutions to the problem: 

Denver Rotary Club has awarded SSAAP a [restricted] grant of $3k in 2011 and 2012 to
help with the water situation in Simwatachela and in Sierra Leone both. This money will be used
for the following:

•       Shovels, cement covers and iron rods used for digging their own
shallow wells. Cement covers over the water will prevent contamination
from ground rodents.
•      Possible borehole in either country (approx. $6,000 USD per borehole)

Engineers Without Borders, Mississippi University has also volunteered to come to Zambia to survey the land donated to SSAAP and potentially instal boreholes or other means of clean drinking water, such as potential covered wells. Note that covered wells are also a model used by DAPP-Zambia, potential partner for SSAAP in Zambia. 

Stanley British Primary School also has an on-going project raising money and organizing for water filters to be shipped to Simwatachela, Zambia. SSAAP hopes in the future to also assist Sierra Leone with the same resource. Water filters are intended to be distributed to local schools in rural areas with little or no means of clean drinking water. The filters are to be kept at the schools, not for family or community consumption but rather for school pupils.


Problems with bore hole construction: expense. One borehole costs approx. $6K, which is substantially more expensive than a well. A hand-dug well costs about $200-250 USD.

Other potential problems: Africa is a borehole graveyard. Most bore holes in Africa are constructed by NGOs or
church missionaries who pay the cost of drilling. The bore hole pump
breaks after (an average) of five to ten years, and if not maintained and/or the community does not have its own Borehole Committee or Borehole fund which families have been donating to over the years, then the community has no means of fixing the borehole. Thus, this presents an issue of a lack of sustainability.

The well model is a good one, especially due to the sustainability factor. The community contribution of labor helps to ensure ownership of a project; thus the sustainability model is higher due to the ownership model from the community. Problems with the hand-dug well model, however, include a superstitious value system from the community. Many people do not want open water (although covered with a lid) in the community because they fear contamination of the water and / or witchcraft-induced danger done unto the water. Examples might include: placing charms in the water, having someone put a spell on the water, etc. Please note that Zambia has written laws against witchcraft, and most Zambians [even educated Zambians in Lusaka or large cities] place a lot of power on the dangers of witchcraft. So many people in the village fear an open water source, even with a large cover or a lid, because they do not trust the other people living around them.

Also note that the Zambian government, a half-decade ago, told the Zambian people that water from wells was not as clean as borehole water from boreholes (60-70 meters deep). SSAAP is in the process of investigating whether or not this is actually true, or rather hearsay due to the government's desire for non-profit organizations to give rural areas large-scale water systems rather than hand-dug wells. 














Join the Program

How You Can Help

  • Donations are appreciated and much needed. Please see the PayPal buttons located within the website.
  • Wooden art, jewelry and baskets from Zambia, as well as paintings and batik art from Sierra Leone are available for purchase on the project art shop, located on the SSAAP website.
  • SSAAP hosts events and fundraisers throughout the year. Details are available on the 'Events' link of the SSAAP website.
Project Summary
Imagine living in a remote Zambian village. It is your whole world. You’ve never ventured beyond the edge of trees surrounding your village. Suddenly, a diminutive wisp of a girl/woman, blonde and green-eyed with a child in tow, emerges out of the trees and walks toward you. She asks you in your own language, CiTonga, where you get your water? You summon the courage to reach out and touch her fair skin, her hair, her daughter’s hair. A human connection has been made.

This scenario happens repeatedly in remote areas of Zambia and Sierra Leone. It is also beginning to happen in remote areas of Ethiopia.

This adventurous woman is Heather Cumming, the Project Director and Founder of Simwatachela Sustainable Agricultural and Arts Program, or “SSAAP.”

Heather began her life in Africa as a Peace Corps-Zambia volunteer, 2004-2006. Leaving Zambia in 2006, she vowed to herself--along with partners in the project, Marles Kanyawinyawi and Gibson Sinangombe—that her work in Africa was far from being finished.

In April 2008, the community headmen of 3 adjacent villages in Simwatachela granted her project 140 hectares of virgin land, specifically for the purpose of starting a sustainable agricultural program with potable water to feed both the people and their cattle. Her Zambian headquarters is located in the Southern Province of Africa.
Life expectancy in Zambia is 37 years. Food security is fragile, dependent upon rainfall and traditional hand-planted cultivation. The HIV/AIDS epidemic ravaged the country: 1 in every 4 people is HIV positive. Malnutrition is present in communities country-wide.

In 2007, Sierra Leone, the other African country where SSAAP works, was rated the most unlivable country in the world. The 11 year Civil War (1990-2001), followed by the Ebola Epidemic (2014-2015) devastated the country’s economy. Every 4th child dies here before reaching the age of 5. Life expectancy in Sierra Leone is 33 years.
Project Goals
  • The project framework involves securing land, then finding a sustainable water source primarily to irrigate crops.
  • Project goal involves bringing water to a relatively dry area.
  • Large-scale focus is to create a market to sell indigenous products to local people as well as to tourists. Examples include: honey from the bee-keeping groups, clothing woven by women's groups, Tonga artisans' wooden crafts and baskets, Sierra Leonean artisans' paintings and batik, furniture made by the carpentry groups.
  • Project goal involves generating income from sales of produce and artwork.
  • Various local artworks from both Zambia and Sierra Leone will be promoted in the U.S.A., via art museums, online purchasing via SSAAP website or through SSAAP fundraisers.
  • Wooden art, jewelry and basketry from Zambia as well as paintings and batik from Sierra Leone are available for purchase on the project website.
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