Rehabilitated facilities bring improved water and sanitation to Madlambudzi clinic

Rehabilitated facilities bring improved water and sanitation to Madlambudzi clinic

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The Health Center Committee for Madlambuzi clinic

Zimbabwe boasts a well-connected system of rural health clinics run by the Ministry of Health and Child Care that provide services such as baby deliveries and out-patient treatments. Amalima encourages at least three prenatal visits for pregnant and lactating women; however, some of the clinics lack the necessary facilities to promote good hygiene practices for the patients. Amalima addresses the need for improved sanitation and hygiene facilities by constructing toilets, flush systems, and handwashing stations at clinics across Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South. In the Bulilma district (Ward 11), Amalima worked closely with the community, the Rural District Council, clinic staff, and the Health Center Committee to bring running water and improved sanitation facilities to the Madlambuzi clinic.

This clinic provides medical services, including out-patient treatments and baby delivery procedures, to over 5,000 people per year, an average of 20 patients per day. The clinic is also home to a medical lab which performs malaria and tuberculosis testing for patients and the three surrounding clinics. For a clinic of this size, the government recommends at least 100 liters of water available each day for the day-to-day functions of the clinic. However, in 2012 the clinic’s water system broke down. The clinic was forced to rely on water from an onsite borehole that could only pump 200 liters (about 10 buckets) of water at a time before running dry, making it necessary to wait for two hours before drawing more water. With the clinic’s day-to-day operations constrained, clinic patients had no choice but to fetch their own water from water sources that were unsafe for medical purposes. As described by clinic client Mrs. Dube, “My relatives had to walk for 30 minutes [to a nearby dam] to get a 20-liter bucket of water for my baby’s delivery.”

Moreover, the clinic only had two toilets, which were used by both clinic staff and the general public. With so many people using only two toilets and no water for handwashing, it was difficult for clinic staff to maintain good sanitation practices. When asked about the impact on hygiene and sanitation, clinic nurse Ms. Ndlovu recalls how these conditions, “compromised health standards at the clinic and negatively impacted health outcomes in our community.”

In response to the need for better facilities at the clinic, the Amalima team collaborated with local stakeholders to find a solution. Through Amalima’s Food for Assets activity, community members provided labor for constructing six new latrines and two handwashing stations at the clinic. Workers were compensated with 60 kilograms of sorghum and 4 kilograms of lentils for every 15 days of work. Since the borehole onsite could not provide sufficient water, the clinic made an agreement to source water from a well already in use at a nearby school.  Amalima installed nine solar panels for the borehole pump and installed a10,000-liter tank for water storage. Villages in the surrounding area also served by the clinic each donated a roll of fencing to secure the new facilities.

Four of the six toilets constructed at Madlambuzi clinic, including two disability-friendly latrines

Since March 2017, the clinic has had fully functional toilets, running water, and handwashing stations, and patients are no longer required to provide their own water for procedures. lients are no longer responsible There are six new toilets, including two toilets for clinic staff, and four for the clinic clients. In addition, two of the public latrines feature a wider doorway, a handrail, a toilet seat, and space for a wheelchair to turn around for clients with disabilities.  Stepping stones are placed to lead the user from the latrine to the handwashing station to help remind people to wash their hands.  According to the clinic’s Environmental Health Technician, Mr. Ndebele, the latrines and handwashing stations with running water “have improved our ability to prevent the spread of infection onsite at the clinic”

To support the Health Center Committee in its role to conduct ongoing maintence of the new facilities, Amalima provided training on community based management as well as operations and maintenance of water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure.  Cmeet regularly to verify that the facilities are functioning properly, monitor water user practices, and raise any needed funds to make repairs to the facilities.

In addition to the facilities at Madlambuzi clinic, Amalima has rehabilitated WASH facilities at 27 clinics across Matabeleland North and South provinces with a total of 154 toilets, 17 flush systems, and 52 handwashing stations since 2014.

Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity

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Overview:

The Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity is a five-year USAID-funded project (2017-2022) that aims to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ income, improve the nutritional status of women and children, and increase the resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food systems to a changing climate. By 2022, the project will have benefited over 700,000 smallholder farmers in ten target districts: Bugesera, Gatsibo, Kayonza, and Ngoma (Eastern Province); Karongi, Ngororero, Nyabihu, Nyamasheke, and Rutsiro (Western Province); and Nyamagabe (Southern Province) and across five value chains: high-iron beans, orange flesh sweet potato (OFSP), Irish potato, maize, and horticulture.

Program Approach:

  1. Increasing Sustainable Agricultural Productivity: Hinga Weze focuses on interventions that support an integrated systems approach to agriculture productivity and that follow the principles of sustainable land and water use, with particular attention to climate-smart technologies of relevance to Rwanda, facilitating the resilience of farming systems by improving water management, preventing soil erosion, and maximizing the effectiveness of input use;
  2. Expanding Farmers’ Access to Markets: In order to enhance farmers’ competitiveness and expand access to markets, Hinga Weze is increasing access to post-harvest equipment and facilities, market information, and credit and financial services;
  3. Improving Nutritional Outcome of Agriculture Interventions: Hinga Weze is focused on strengthening the link between agriculture and nutrition to improve the nutritional status of its communities and families.

Partners:

  1. Plan International
  2. Souktel
  3. Rwanda Development Organisation
  4. Imbaraga Farmer’s Federation

Feed the Future Nigeria and Nestle Maize Quality Improvement Partnership

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Overview:

The Feed the Future Nigeria and Nestlé Maize Quality Improvement Partnership (M-QIP) (2017-2020) enhances the quality and safety of maize and soybeans available to Nestlé’s food processing factories while supporting USAID’s goals of revitalizing Nigeria’s agriculture sector and improving nutrition along these cereal value chains. The partnership will utilize a “whole-of-supply-chain” approach to enhance the quality, safety, and transparency of the Nestlé supply chain.

Program Approach:

  1. Capacity Building of Smallholder Farmer Suppliers: To catalyze better conduct and performance in the maize and soybean value chains in Kaduna State, our activities focus on the three main stakeholder groups within the supply chains: smallholder farmers, intermediaries, and input retailers;
  2. Capacity Building of Local Organizations: With the support of the Nigeria Youth Service Corps program and local extension agents, M-QIP catalogs and maps the many associations and cooperatives that play a role in improving the yield and product quality of smallholder farmers in the maize and soybean growing regions and along market routes, specifically near Nestlé’s current sourcing areas and storage networks. Through this process, CNFA kick-starts and sustains engagement with the M-QIP program with all stakeholders, including Nestlé corporate employees, farmers’ associations, government extension service providers, and community leaders.

Partners:

  1. Purdue University

Feed the Future Guinea Strengthening Agriculture Value Chains and Youth

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Overview:

The CNFA-implemented Feed the Future Strengthening Agriculture Value Chains and Youth (SAVY) Program (2016-2021) aims to facilitate improved access to agricultural inputs, credit tools, and market information along the rice, horticulture, and livestock value chains in Guinea.

Program Approach:

The SAVY program falls under the Guinea Agricultural Services (GAS) project, funded by USAID and in partnership with six international NGOs focused on animal health promotion and animal disease outbreak mitigation, financial inclusion, and market facilitation. These three intervention areas have one major cross-cutting activity, the Apprentissage en Vulgarisation, Entreprenariat et Innovation Rurale (Apprenticeship in Extension, Entrepreneurism, and Rural Innovation- AVENIR) program, which aims to engage up to 320 entrepreneurial and ambitious young men and women, and provides the training, mentoring, and work experience needed to become successful entrepreneurs and change agents in a competitive agricultural sector.

  1. Human and Institutional Capacity Development (HICD): CNFA collaborates with the Strengthening Market-led Agricultural Research, Technology, and Education (SMARTE) program implemented by Winrock International (Winrock) to implement the AVENIR program.
  2. A Focus on Private Sector Engagement and Entrepreneurship: SAVY activities aim to increase positive risk-taking, the use of mobile money, and access to and use of affordable credit tools to facilitate new market linkages.
  3. Women’s Empowerment: SAVY activities facilitate opportunities for women in the horticulture and livestock value chains, and in processing and marketing activities. The project works to mitigate constraints faced by women and female youth, such as limited access to and understanding of credit, heavier work burdens, and limited ability to make decisions about agricultural production, expenditures, and division of land parcels.

Partners:

  1. Strengthening Market-led Agricultural Research, Technology, and Education (SMARTE) program implemented by Winrock International (Winrock International)
  2. World Food Logistics Organization (WFLO)
  3. Enclude Inc.

Mobilization of REGIS-AG and its partners in promoting animal health

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Newcastle disease: an obstacle in the development of the Nigerien poultry value chain

Newcastle disease[1] is a highly contagious viral disease negatively affecting poultry in the West African region where 40-70% of unvaccinated rural poultry are killed by the disease. The risk and impact of the virus, which spreads easily throughout flocks, can vary in severity from strain to strain and is also dependent on environmental conditions (such as immunity and the animal’s overall health). Outbreaks can occur at any time of the year, but happen with greater frequency during the cold season. Vaccination is the only prevention method for this disease and there is currently an effective, affordable vaccine (50 CFAF / subject) that is heat-stable and easy use for the smallholder farmers (administered by eye drop) that is produced in Niger. The vaccine is called I-2 vaccine (produced with strain I-2 virus) and is critical in the effort to promote animal health in Niger and the Sahelian region.

Mobilization of REGIS –AG and its partners in promoting animal health

To significantly reduce the mortality rate of poultry in Niger, the NGO « Poulailler du Développement » provided the I-2 vaccine and sought the support of REGIS -AG project to organize a broad awareness campaign, in order to inform poultry farmers on the control of Newcastle disease, encourage producers to allow auxiliary veterinarian networks (SVPP) administer the I-2 vaccine. This operation was conducted in November 2015 in the Tillaberi region with support[2] from REGIS–AG and REGIS -ER and continues to stimulate much enthusiasm in rural areas.

723,704 subjects were vaccinated in the Tillaberi campaign, including chickens, guinea fowl, pigeons, and ducks.

One beneficiary, Mrs Aissa Harouna Konne of Beri, testifies to the women’s enthusiasm saying, “This is the first time that such an activity is held in our village. Poultry farming is practiced by almost all households in the village. It is the only source of income of the households, especially of women. This is a very important source of income. It represents one of the few opportunities of savings, investment and protection against risk. However, for a long time every year we have to restock because of the diseases, particularly ‘ zounkou , koitou , kekoga ‘  ( traditional name for the Newcastle disease) . I still remember 5 years ago, these diseases were not frequent; family poultry farm size was twice the size of farms that we have these recent years. The campaign of vaccination against the disease is a very valuable initiative. “

The Tillaberri vaccination campaign against the Newcastle disease was extremely successful and partners both in the public and private sector are working to replicate similar activities in Maradi and Zinder. REGIS-AG and partners REGIS-ER and VSF will work together to facilitate and scale up this beneficial activity to its other operational areas.

[1]It is also called “Newcastle disease “,” avian pneumoencephalitis “or “Ranikhet disease.” It is also known under the generic name of “fowl plague”.

[2] This support has focused on the management of vaccinators and the elements responsible for the supervision and the awareness and visibility of the campaign (knitwear for vaccinators and educational messages via radio.)

Feed the Future Egypt Food Security and Agribusiness Support

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Overview:

CNFA has implemented the USAID Feed the Future Egypt Food Security and Agribusiness Support project (2015-2020) to increase incomes and improve food security for at least 14,000 Upper Egyptian smallholder farmers across seven focal governorates – including Assiut, Aswan, Beni-Suef, Luxor, Minya, Qena, and Sohag. Over five years, the project will improve health and educational opportunities for women and youth as well as increase household purchasing power.

Program Approach:

Egypt FAS uses an “agricultural value chain” approach to improve horticulture productivity, access to markets, value-adding activities, and commercial linkages with input and service suppliers.

  1. Improved Market Systems: FAS supports improved on-farm production, more efficient post-harvest processes, and improved marketing of agriculture crops and products;
  2. Improved Nutritional Status of Women and Children: FAS integrates nutrition-sensitive agriculture by increasing income opportunities and nutrition education in its target regions;
  3. Gender Inclusivity and Sensitivity: Gender is a cross-cutting issue in the FAS project and is considered throughout the program;
  4. Improved Agricultural Inputs and Services: FAS strengthens input suppliers, agriculture processors and support services, and leverages proven ICT capabilities to bring interventions to scale;
  5. Governance and Private Sector Engagement: The project creates a policy-enabling environment and instills an understanding of the role of value chain governance as well as the recognition of the importance of inter-firm relationships and stakeholder participation.

Partners:

  1. Winrock International
  2. Arizona State University
  3. World Food Logistics Organization

For One Woman, Amalima Training and Eco-stove Offer a New Outlook on Life

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Esnath Tshuma, 45, lives in Tjompani village with her 13 year-old nephew, Tandana. Esnath is a strong-willed woman who has worked hard throughout the years, but her life irrevocably changed after sustaining a severe injury three years ago. In November of 2012, Esnath was repairing a fence in her field, when she turned and lodged her foot in the fence. She fell, twisting her leg and fracturing a bone in the process. The injury resulted in paralysis of her leg and impaired mobility of her right hand. She is now limited to walking with crutches, as well as a using a plastic yard chair in lieu of a proper wheelchair to maneuver around her compound.

Her husband travelled to South Africa to look for work in August 2015, but has not been able to find a steady source of income. She receives a bit of money from her brother who works in Bulawayo, but since her injury, she has been relying on the kindness of her neighbors and the sale of her own personal items, like used blankets and dresses, to make ends meet.

“After my injury in 2012, I felt like I couldn’t do anything and was spending a lot of time sitting around idle,” said Esnath. She explained that due to her disability, she was no longer able to perform most of her daily activities like fetching water, collecting firewood, and farming. Cooking over an open fire on the ground was a particularly uncomfortable task, but she was unwilling to give up this role.

Esnath was thrilled when in early 2014, her sister-in-law, Tshihomanana Tshuma, offered to build her a clay stove that would allow her to sit while cooking. Tshihomanana participated in an Amalima training to learn how to build an environmentally friendly, fuel-efficient ‘eco-stove.’ After learning how to work with the clay, she realized that she could easily build a platform for Esnath’s eco-stove to allow for cooking while seated. The results were perfect; not only is Esnath able to complete her daily chores with increased comfort, but due to the eco-stove’s fuel-efficiency, her young nephew saves time and energy searching for increasingly scarce firewood in the bush.

Tshihomanana learned about Amalima’s Community Health Clubs (CHC) through the eco-stove training, and asked Esnath to join her in participating. CHCs promote increased awareness of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices in communities through completion of a 20 module Participatory Health and Hygiene Education (PHHE) training. CHCs foster learning for change through promotion of practical improvements at the household level to change the behaviors of community members in favor of a more hygienic environment. In March 2014, 16 women and one man from Tjompani village established the Mukani CHC and began receiving lessons from Nosizo Dube, their neighbor and Community Based Facilitator (CBF).

“After joining the CHC, I realized that I could stand up for myself and do something with my life,” noted Esnath. The lessons highlighted vital steps to improving hygiene that Esnath was capable of completing at home, such as sweeping, washing hands at critical times, using a 2-cup water system, rubbish disposal and cleaning dishes. Perhaps more importantly, belonging to the club gave her a special comradery with her group members. The members proved to be more than just a social outlet; recognizing her needs, the group pitched in to build Esnath a tippy-tap hand washing station, a private bathing area, and a rubbish pit at her homestead.

Mukani Success Story CNFA

Left: Esnath and Tshihomanana with her private bathing area. Right: Mukani members wash hands at Esnath’s tippy-tap.

After completing the PHHE sessions, all 17 Mukani CHC members graduated at a community-wide ceremony. After this milestone, the members recognized a positive momentum with their initiative and made the decision to continue working together as a Village Savings and Lending (VS&L) group. To make this transition, they received training on VS&L methodology from Amalima, including group formation, constitution development, group fund development, loans and loan appraisal, and record keeping.

Mukani group held its first VS&L meeting in August 2015. Their objective is to save for short-term needs such as food, kitchen utensils and school fees, as well as to pool financial resources for larger, higher-impact income generating activities. The group’s long-term goal is to establish a poultry business with their savings. At each meeting, hosted by a different member on rotation, members make a $10 contribution. Each month $10 is set aside for group savings and investment in their poultry business, which they hope to establish later this year. The remaining cash is used to provide the hosting member with kitchen utensils and a goat valued at approximately $35. The balance is then shared out evenly among members for their household use. The group has $70 saved to date.

mukani

Tandana and Esnath together at home.

Esnath already has plans to grow her small livestock herd with the goat she received from hosting the December 2015 meeting. She is also looking forward to being involved in the poultry income generating activity to become economically self-sufficient; the group considered her accessibility when selecting where the chicken coop will be located.

After receiving her eco-stove and joining the Mukani club, Esnath recognized her ability to lead a full life. The training Esnath received from Amalima is invaluable, yet the support and friendship from her group members has been as vital to her livelihood. She is grateful for the opportunity to join the CHC. “It has given me a sense of purpose,” she says.

Amalima Paravet Mobilizes Communities around Improved Livestock Health

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As the arid climate of the Matebeleland region in Zimbabwe is not particularly suitable for crop production, a majority of rural Zimbabweans in this area rely on livestock production for their livelihoods. These farmers face many challenges, namely access to water and resources to protect and maintain livestock health. Traditionally, small holder farmers in Zimbabwe have depended on skilled veterinary services and NGO personnel for livestock health services such as dehorning, castration, vaccination, dosing and other treatments. Yet, veterinary extension officers are burdened with a zone of coverage that is too expansive to meet the needs of most farmers and animals in their regions. To purchase vaccines or visit the nearest Department of Veterinary Services Doctor, small holder farmers must often travel long distances and pay debilitating amounts of money. To address the gap in services, the Amalima program is training Lead Farmers and Paravets (auxiliary animal health workers) to provide much needed veterinary services to local communities and to increase knowledge about effective livestock management practices in three major areas: disease prevention; supplementary feeding, and improved breeding.

Mr. Putshe Sibanda of Mzila Village is a farmer, husband, father of seven, and Village Savings and Loan (VS&L) group member, but he has now added one more commitment to his already busy schedule: community Paravet.  As an owner of 13 cattle, 34 goats and many chickens, Sibanda sought to improve the health of his livestock by participating in Amalima Lead Farmer livestock training.

Sibanda was determined to put what he learned into practice. Armed with his new understanding of improved livestock management practices, he reached out to farmers in his community to train others about animal health. As an Amalima Lead Farmer, Sibanda committed to reaching 10 farmers through a cascading training model– but he easily reached 30 individuals in a matter of weeks. He saw that there was a demand for livestock management training in his community with participants young and old, male and female, wanting to improve their livelihoods by investing in their livestock.

After the success of his initial trainings, Sibanda elected to participate in additional Amalima and Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) training in September 2014 to become a Paravet. These trainings cover both theory and hands-on application of various practices such as disease prevention, identification, and treatment, nutrition (supplementary feeding, pen fattening and feed harvesting), breed improvement, dehorning, and the calving process. Since participating in this training and assuming his new role as a Paravet, Sibanda has worked with over 100 households to treat more than 500 goats, 300 kids, 300 cattle and 1,000 chickens. He treats issues ranging from popped and pulpy kidneys and blocked udders to diarrhea and birthing complications.

Sibanda says he draws his motivation for this work from the potential financial empowerment that livestock production can provide for small holder farmers. Sibanda, as with all Amalima-trained Paravets, does not charge a fee for his services. Even after the countless hours of work he has volunteered, he remains focused on a larger goal for his community: “I want my neighbors to also succeed with their livestock and not suffer,” he says. Sibanda believes in a two-pronged approach to improving animal health and livestock production: training community members on livestock management skills and increasing access to localized veterinary services and vaccines. He sees these inputs as key to increasing livestock herds and, in turn, improving the livelihoods and food security of whole communities.

“Since I started training with Amalima, my goats and cattle are no longer dying,” he said. “I had lots of issues with deaths during and after pregnancy. My survival rate for calves was previously one out of five (20%). As my neighbors began to see that I knew how to care for and vaccinate my animals, they also began to seek my assistance and buy vaccines. They are now aware that it is best to vaccinate for disease prevention, and not for a cure.”

Members of surrounding communities now consult him on a regular basis. Through his training and home-visits, he helps other farmers establish good habits for livestock management. Often, when making a home-visit, he will invite one of his trainees to accompany him to gain valuable hands-on experience. Two of his trainees have started helping other farmers in their communities with livestock issues, further spreading improved animal husbandry practices in the process.

In light of the poor rainfall this season, Sibanda also encouraged farmers to re-plant small-grains and beans in mid-late January. If the crops do not produce food for humans, the stalks and leaves can be used as fodder for animals in upcoming months. In addition, he trains farmers to dig a large storage hole, line it with plastic, and keep grasses and other forage in this cool, dry space to keep feed fresh.

Mangwe paravet

Sibanda (left) with trainees from Mashasha livestock group in Mzila village, who also participate in the communal livestock medication supply system.

Sibanda’s role as community paravet exceeds that of a trainer and veterinary service provider; he is mobilizing entire communities to practice sustainable livestock management practices. In Mzila village, he has established a communal vaccination and medication supply system. Participating farmers purchase a vial of medication that is suitable to local animals, and Sibanda coordinates with the group to make sure that an appropriate variety is acquired. He also instructs each household on proper storage of the medicine in a cool, dry space. The purchased medication is then part of a communal supply available to all contributors if their animal(s) fall ill, with Sibanda responsible for applying the treatment. Inventory is calculated periodically to determine how and by whom supplies were used, and how they should be replenished. Through this investment, the community is controlling and preventing the spread of disease.

Sibanda is also a dedicated member of the Kancane Kancane VS&L group, which formed after receiving Amalima training in early 2015. He is the only male member and explains his interest in participating because “animals don’t tell us when they are going to be ill, and having savings ensures access to funds for purchasing the appropriate treatment. I want to start teaching and promoting VS&L to men, particularly to encourage saving for vaccines.”

As a Paravet and community mobilizer, Mr. Sibanda is leading the way with his sights planted firmly on a future where resilient communities are earning their livelihoods by practicing smart, livestock management.

Healthy Soil for a Better Harvest – Conservation Farming in Tsholotsho

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The majority of farmers in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe rely on rains for their agricultural activities. When rains are poor or erratic, crops fail, harvests suffer and people don’t have enough food to eat. Tsholotsho district in Matabeleland North is no exception. This area is characterized by low, unpredictable rainfall during the farming season and year-round arid conditions. Farmers are often forced to rely on alternative coping strategies, including remittances, paid casual labor and craft-making, to make it through the lean season. However, cultivation methods based on low-till conservation agriculture (CA) promoted by the USAID-funded Amalima program are improving harvest yields in this dry environment and influencing many households in the process.

Cecelia NcubeCecilia Ncube, 66 years old, is a smallholder farmer in Zenzeleni village of Tsholotsho. She is a widower and lives with her three daughters and five small grandchildren. Several of her children are in South Africa and send back remittances on a monthly basis, which, combined with income from basket-making, is how Cecelia survives. Concerned about her family’s precarious livelihood and food security situation, she decided to participate in the Amalima program’s CA training. “I am so excited that I am taking part in this conservation farming intervention. Before the Amalima program arrived, I would use draught power to till most of my land. I would have to wait for other villagers to finish ploughing their fields before they would let me borrow their oxen. I realized that every time I was ploughing too late, well after the planting rains had gone, and more importantly, this method made the soils quickly dry off,” says Cecilia.

Amalima builds on existing communal initiatives in order to improve household food security and nutrition status through initiatives like conservation agriculture and livestock trainings, improving access to agricultural inputs and strengthening community resilience to economic and climatic shocks. The Amalima program draws its name from the Ndebele word for the social contract by which families come together to help each other engage in productive activities such as land cultivation, livestock tending, and asset building.

Conservation agriculture (CA) is a set of soil management practices that minimize the disruption of the soil’s structure, composition and natural biodiversity. CA has proven potential to increase crop yields, while improving the long-term sustainability of farming. As part of land preparation, farmers dig planting basins rather than plowing the whole field and lay manure fertilizer in the basins before planting. This method of field preparation minimizes soil disturbance, consequently reducing erosion and increasingmoisture retention when the rains fall. Specific spacing guidelines also promote maximum yields. Amalima CA training covers land preparation methods, fertilizer application, planting, pest management and post-harvest handling.

“At first I thought this process was too labor intensive and I didn’t see how I would be able to till a reasonable piece of land. But our mentors, Amalima field staff and AGRITEX [GoZ Agricultural Extension] Officers encouraged us to work in groups of ten so that we could assist each other with land preparation. Working this way, we were then able to work on one plot a day,” she explained. Cecelia is now part of a conservation farming group made up of 10 women in her village who also participated in the Amalima training. Soils around Zenzeleni village are sandy and the group had to collect cow dung around the nearest watering borehole to place in their planting basins to enhance soil fertility and reduce the loss of soil nutrients from water run-off. According to Cecelia’s group’s constitution, members provide assistance preparing 0.5 hectare of each members’ field using CA techniques. As a result of this cooperation, Cecelia managed to complete the millet planting on her plot before the first rains in the 2014/2015 season and was excited to compare the results of her CA and conventional plots.

In January 2015, Cecelia explained, “With good rains this year, I am expecting to harvest 300kgs of millet on this 50m by 50m (0.3 ha) piece of land. On the same piece of land I used to get around 150kgs of millet using conventional farming.” A few months later, the sorghum in her CA plot was a lush green in comparison to the crops in her conventional plot. Cecilia lamented that if she had known that the millet in the CA plot would do so much better than in the conventional farming plot, she would have dug CA planting basins throughout her fields herself.

Cecelia Ncube combined

At left, Cecilia with her lush CA millet plot in January of 2015. Right, she stands with her conventional farming millet plot on the same day.

The 2014/2015 season did not bring good rains – rainfall was 40 percent below normal in Tsholotsho – but Cecelia’s small CA plot yielded 200kgs of millet despite the drought, which is more than double the yield of neighbors who used conventional methods on the same sized land. On her 1.7 ha conventional farming plot, Cecelia yielded 650kgs, which is only 3.5 times the yield on an area of land almost six-times larger. Six months since her harvest, Cecelia still has 100kg of millet available for her family’s consumption.

After witnessing the increased yields from Cecelia and her fellow group members’ CA plots, many new farmers from Zenzeleni village eagerly participated in CA training in July and August, and formed several new CA farmer groups for the upcoming growing season. Cecilia’s CA farming group plans to expand their area of cultivation in the future using draught power and mechanized CA to prepare planting basins.

Cecelia is using CA techniques on her entire 2 hectare plot this year, explaining, “Since adopting CA, my yield was better even during a poor and erratic rainy season. CA is the best technology that I urge all community farmers to adopt. It has come as a revelation in addressing the challenge of food security both at household and community level especially for us households without any means of earning an income to feed the family.” As of early October, Cecelia had already prepared 75 percent of her plot using CA techniques.