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From: Food security – Footsteps 32

The importance of producing, processing, storing and distributing food locally

by Pukuta N Mwanza.

Luangwa and Gwembe are two regions of Zambia which have been severely affected by five years of continuous drought. These droughts have left farmers poorer than before because they have been forced to sell their assets – livestock, equipment – and use up their savings to survive.

Recently EFZ (Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia) has organised village workshops on the subject of ‘Drought Mitigation’. In Gwembe 100 people from 55 different villages were invited for a four day workshop. The response was overwhelming and people came long distances. One young man, for example, arrived exhausted after walking over 20km.

The participation and enthusiasm of villagers was very encouraging. Bible studies, quizzes, teaching and demonstrations on oil extraction were included in the programme. Most time was spent in mixed group work and women felt free to participate fully. Points raised were then shared with all participants in open sessions. Issues of food security, food shortages and disaster mitigation were discussed and the following points emerged:

General observations

Early warning signs

Traditional drought-warning beliefs

Traditional preservation methods

Ways of coping with drought

Results

Participants were asked to share all that they had learnt on their return home. Certificates of attendance were presented to all, and this gave the participants a real sense of achievement. Some could not hide their great joy as they sang and danced on their way home.

A month later we visited the area and found some participants had done a great work in training their fellow villagers. Many villagers were eager to share what they had learned with us. In Chipepo area Arthur Ngandu, one of the participants, was found busy teaching on drought mitigation and preparedness. When the EFZ truck got stuck in the mud during seed distribution, villagers would not interrupt their class because ‘we are listening to something serious’! The driver was puzzled but happy with the commitment and dedication of the villagers towards the drought mitigation programme.

Pukuta Mwanza is the Coordinator of the Ethics, Society and Development Dept of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia.

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