The intensified climate-change fight in Zambia
By JAJAH COULIBALY - Panos/ZIIMA
FROM the politics of bureaucracy, congestion, expenditure and side effects of chemical or artificial fertilizers constitute key issues concerning the climate change fight.
For instance, in Zambia less political Bokash compost manure has excited numerous farmers in their endeavour to abet the fight against unfriendly climate actions under the auspices of the Voices for Just Climate Action (VCA) programme in the country.
The VCA alliance that comprise the World Wide Fund (WWF), HIVOS, South -South North (SSN), Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and Akina Mama Africa are currently on a 15-day road show aimed at examining progress made from the Voices for Just Climate Action to strengthen learning, knowledge brokering and knowledge management of the programme.
Roadshows would see the alliance visit programme sites in Luangwa, Rufunsa, Chongwe, Lusaka, Kafue, Chikankata, Chirundu, Siavonga, Mazabuka and Itezhi- tezhi where most local organisations who are partners to the VCA programme would showcase skills and innovations being undertaken by communities on Just Climate Action.
Negative effects of climate change evidently affect every sector of the economy and this trickles down to an average Zambian with parents in rural parts sharing experiences on how climate change has contributed to early marriages and teen pregnancies for instance.
Rufunsa Zambia Alliance for Women (ZAW) Chairperson Prisca Mwansa claims girls that find themselves married or pregnant at a tender age mostly point at lack of proper food as the main cause of falling victim to the state they find themselves in, mostly because their parents have little or no hope in farming.
Mrs. Mwansa made it clear that adequate food in a rural home would mean children especially the female going to school and not falling pregnant or getting married at a tender age. “One of my neighbor has a daughter who took herself to man that lives in Lusaka and when elders approached the teen couple they vowed not to let each other go, of course the girl sealed it off with lack of food at home”.
In Kanakantapa, Theresa Chewe who is a peasant farmer appreciates the training she went through facilitated by the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) on how to inter- crop, keep away pests like army worms and make manure from the very things that are near her surroundings.
Mrs. Chewe now boasts of not lining up, panic or scramble for artificial fertilizer that is only given out by joining clubs and sometimes delivery becomes late due to logistical challenges. “I tried to compare the crops that other friends planted using artificial fertilizer and the ones I planted using organic manure. My organic crops were doing much better and soils were not being damaged and the artificial fertilizer was also being distributed as late as January. You can imagine the inconvenience it can cause to serious farmers!” Mrs. Chewe explained.
Green Agriculture Youth Organization (GAYO) in Kasisi is leading in teaching women on the benefits of Just Climate Action and providing techniques of maximizing food production by forming local seed banks and farming methods that are drought-resistant.
GAYO executive director Lily Singelengele said her organisation was interested in three areas namely food systems, clean energy and gender and that the organisation trained women in planting crops that were sustainable, high in protein and promoted nutrition, using organic fertilizers, promotion of local seeds and drought resistant crops as well as sensitising the community on the benefits of avoiding chemicals in farming. “From the time we partnered with HIVOS Southern Africa, three quarters of the local people here have stopped cutting down trees for charcoal and firewood. There is a small powerful stove called Rocket Stove that requires grass-like branches to be lit and could cook any type of food. The Rocket Stove is smart in that it doesn’t produce thick smoke or require large quantities of grass-like branches and this has seen trees being preserved,” Ms. Singelengele said.
She says the project has a training component that seeks to remind women of the role they play in society and how they could ensure homes manage nutritious and sustainable diets. “We tell them the importance of planting legumes over maize, how to grow drought-resistant crops that grow even with little or no rain and plants that don’t need chemicals for pest control,” she said.
The women and youth of Kanakantapa displayed various climate-smart solutions such as organic fertilizer, cassava and cowpeas that were climate-resilient as well as energy alternatives like fire blocks made from maize cobs and ash and the Rockets Stoves that uses grass-like branches to cook.
These women and youths cited lack of land ownership and inadequate information from the Zambia Metrological Department on weather patterns so they could properly plan on what, where when and how to go about planting crops to suit various types of climate conditions.
Slum Dwellers International (SDI) which is part of the VCA alliance has taken advantage and involved youth federations in densely populated areas like Kanyama and George townships in Lusaka to raise awareness and advocate for inclusive, resilient and green cities using story telling techniques signaling that slum dwellers are an important stakeholder in the Just Climate Action crusade.
As their contribution to Just Climate Action, slum dwellers mostly women in George and Kanyama had money saving groups that had rotating beneficiaries.
This consisted of making mats for sale, sack gardening and production of own compost manure and feed as well as production of organic pesticides that keep pests away in a sage way.
Kanyama Women’s Federation (KWF) Coordinator Alice Phiri explained the importance of involving and engaging women in important programmes explaining that they were in charge of homes, families and knew how best to offer solutions to most challenges in communities.
Mrs. Phiri said the KWF had acquired skills from People’s Process on Housing and Poverty in Zambia (PPHPZ) on climate related challenges and solutions to the same challenges and that the skills they acquired kept them going successfully. “We told them we had no adequate land for gardening and they taught us the idea of sack gardening, they showed how to make our own organic manure and pesticide and many other products that bring money to most women and youths in this federation, that has changed our lives and that of the environment,” she said.
The country is already facing challenges of flooding, dry spells and extreme temperatures that have the capacity to disturb infrastructural development such as roads, buildings and strategic installations.
This includes important crops that could send the entire country into a hunger crisis. There was also need to take a broad-based approach towards climate change sensitisation and get everyone in all sectors get involved to play an effective role in making sure correct actions on climate change were effected.