Maria Bautista, ChildFund’s Africa Programmes Manager, recently paid a monitoring visit to projects in Zambia and is excited to see successes grow with a new agricultural project in Luangwa.

My visit to Zambia in December was just my second visit since working for ChildFund New Zealand. Luangwa, the area in the south-eastern part of greater Lusaka, the capital, was getting all ready for the rains.   This is one of 3 communities where we have a concentrated group of Kiwi-sponsored children who have benefited from ChildFund projects. Recently we have worked with these communities to provide 12,000 mosquito nets, 12 new water points, preschools and more.

Children no longer have to walk long distances to reach water

During this visit, I was very happy to tell the community that the new 3-year project they proposed will be jointly funded by ChildFund New Zealand and the New Zealand government. It will improve economic conditions for 1,500 vulnerable and deprived families through integrated agriculture production (goats, chickens, crops and trees), environmentally-friendly farming techniques, small scale irrigation systems, electric fences, and trainings in marketing and disaster risk reduction.

Two local leaders and I travelled to another part of Zambia (about 8 hours drive away) where a community initiative under a similar setting is now part of a growing company (COMACO) that turns farmers’ produce into packaged products and their cereals are now sold in the country’s supermarkets.

A new agriculture project will make areas like this more productive

It was a joy to speak with these farmers on how they did it and feel their pride in being able to achieve a more stable economic base for their families. Confidently, I can say that this is the future we will see in Luangwa as well.

My most memorable moments during the visit were my interviews with women and youth. I spoke with three women who benefitted from a goats project that finished in late 2011. This project started with a small number of women given four goats each, and through a pass-the-gift system was able to grow their numbers three-fold. In the month before I arrived, they reported that they sold 400 goats wholesale, with overall sales value of NZ$13,000. This is an incredible achievement in an area where families often survive on earning NZ$120 a year!

Maria, centre, with a Zambian women's group

Two youths I met also reported excitedly about their banana plantation, now bearing fruits, the proceeds of which are being used to improve their houses, keep their children healthy with blankets and mattresses, and to expand their fields or invest in other businesses. Who said that 17-23 year olds will not persevere in farming?

Those I interviewed all say that they not only know how to raise goats or grow bananas, but also how to market their products, detect and address animal or crop health issues. More importantly, they also learned that they can achieve anything they want if they are willing to work hard for it.

A banana plantation allows youths to provide for their families

With the new project coming along, I believe we at ChildFund New Zealand have laid the foundations for sustainable growth and that the best is just around the bend in Luangwa.

For more information about ChildFund’s work in Zambia, please visit the Zambia country page.  Please visit our website if you would like to sponsor a child in Zambia.

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