Interview: Elias Chunga
Source Connection began 15 years ago with the establishment of small-scale development in the Kazangulu district, west of Livingstone. Self-reliance, knowledge and local coordination have been the pillars on which Source Connection started building its projects. After a tourism project and a number of water supply projects, the company started in 2012 with the project "Agriculture and food security in Zambia." Through partner organization "Farming God's Way” Source Connection came into contact with Elias Chunga, who became the local contact for agriculture projects. Elias is the pastor of his Future Hope Church, located in Libuyu, a suburb of Livingstone. He also works for Farming God's Way, where he provides training in organic farming based on the idea that people only result from a lack of knowledge! With Elias we speak about how God has given the people the right approach to development and the beneficial sides of the one-sided African image.
An interview with Elias Chunga:
I. General Information
a. Can you shortly describe the genesis / history of the Source Connection-project?
"The contact with Source Connection began in April 2012, when I met Steven through Francis. Francis introduced Steven and myself to each other because we were both engaged in agriculture at that time. Steven wanted to see more of Farming God's Way, the method which I had come into contact with some time before that as a priest. From that moment we showed Steven how we worked. I even introduced Steven to the Director of Farming God's Way, Grant. The three of us have visited a lot of farmers in our region that are working with Farming God's Way. Steven became convinced of the method and therefore developed the relationship with Source Connection. We have been partners eversince.
What we do with Farming God's Way is really long term development. We guide farmers for 6 years in learning the techniques and methods to optimize their agriculture. We believe that everything a farmer needs is given by God and is thus available. What we really want to achieve is a mind change among farmers. "
b. What has the impact of the project since then, on the target group and local community and surroundings?
"The transfer of knowledge to farmers has been very important. Knowledge can't be stolen or taken away from anyone, once they have it, it empowers people forever. If you just hand everything on a silver plate in the end you reach nothing. Moreover it is a challenge to really achieve a change of mindset. Often farm families have worked their land in the same way for centuries. Then, it is difficult to convince them that a different method is better. If this succeeds, then you really have an impact."
c. What has motivated you, personally, to start your development project?
As a priest of course I have been working within the community for quite a while, and I see the difficulties within that community. I wanted to make a change, especially for the poorest people. I was convinced that with Farming God's Way I had something that could really make a change. I am convinced of the philosophy that God even gave the poorest people in the country enough resources to live a good life.”
d. What is, according to you, the strongest point of the project?
"The ultimate goal to eliminate of poverty among the poorest people and to break the poverty in some parts of society. That is really our core mission. For the church, but perhaps also that of Farming God's Way. Source Connection can support us well in achieving this goal, by ensuring that there are sufficient resources. Funding is important so that we can properly monitor the learning process among farmers and guide them in their learning. Source Connection's cpntribution helps enormously. "
e. What is, according to you, the biggest challenge / point of improvement for the project?
"The biggest challenge I still think is to continue to change the mindset of the farmers, and then to notify the people of our method and make them transform into more successful farmers for themselves and their families. This is a big challenge. If this works on an individual level it can also cause a domino effect: if other people see that it works, they also want to apply FGW.
What is also important is that Source Connection keeps trying to come here, to go with us into the field, share their views with us and discuss the progress of the projects. Personal contact is a challenge, but it's very important."
II. Development (aid) - north / south relations
a. What is your idea on development?
"My belief is that development always starts with yourself. Personal development is important to me. When you can not do or understand certain things yourself, how are you supposed to help others develop? This fits the idea of Farming God's Way: first you have to master the contents of the method itself and then you can put it into practice. From there everything can develop, it can grow."
b. There is a lot of Western organizations starting development projects in Africa. What is your general vision on this development-aid?
"Of course there are various types of development aid. It depends very much on what kind of support westerners want to start. They do all kinds of different things. The issue, however, is that a lot of these projects have anything but succeeded. In general it makes people who are "helped" become lazy and dependent on aid, while this aid will always be uncertain and finite. It is very important to teach people something that they can apply independently for themselves at any given time. That this does not happen, in my opinion is really the fault of the Western organizations. Look at how we do it: we give people no seeds, no fertilizer, we only give them the knowledge. For the rest we leave it up to the personal conviction and motivation of the people. This creates self-sustainable communities, and that's development. We are not saying that no outside help is needed, but the way it is often performed is not right."
c. What, according to you, are the main pitfalls / challenges for Western organizations that want to develop other / foreign communities?
"The biggest pitfall is the approach of these projects abroad. You think you're helping people by giving them things, but this does not work! You need to empower people, giving knowledge, and they should realize that they should do it for themselves, not to make someone else happy so they get something in return. In Farming God's Way, people get nothing, except for the knowledge required to build a successful existence. In our opinion that is the correct approach.
In addition, Western projects must not come to Africa to please themselves, but actually to help the people to shape their own lives and to get ahead. Too often you see that their motivation is ultimately self-centered."
d. What, according to you, are the main pitfalls / challenges for African's that want to develop their own communities?
"Forr Africans often it is mainly an issue of a lack of resources: both knowledge as well as material resources. If you support someone, it must be very clear: This is what I offer, and this is what you should do yourself, and for yourself. When people see that you just give them things, they are dependent on you and as soon as you go away the project collapses. You should avoid a situation in which people have no incentive to work (on) themselves. "
e. The In2Afrika Foundation takes the civil society as main principles, in which small scale and local practice are the two most important principles. What is your opinion on our startingpoint?
"You should really try to make a difference through the local community, because these are often the people who really need the support. This is the change is most needed, and where people are also willing to work with you.
If you really want to make an impact you should not immediately want to go big. If you start small, you can really have an impact. From small you can grow. If you immediately try to get involved in huge, complex problems and issues you will be 'swallowed'."
III. Image of Africa
a. What is, according to you, the current prevailing Western image of the African continent?
"Many Westerners have the image that Africa is poor, there are poor facilities, a lack of knowledge moreover, and even that the people live with the animals. Then, what accompanies this image for many Westerners is the feeling that they have to help Africa, that it needs their support."
b. What's your opinion on these images?
"This image is absolutely not entirely unjustified, because you should not underestimate how many people are suffering on our continent. Therefore I do not just see this image as incorrect and bad. It is a narrow minded and one-sided image, but at least it motivates people in the West to help Africa where it is really needed! It might not always be right, at least it activates some people.
What is also a drawback of the one-sided view is that there is a lot of (inefficient) aid to Africa, while there are other places where people need help too, even with you in Europe! "
c. How should this image be changed?
"There can be a change at the moment that Africa changes, at the moment that development in Africa takes place, and when the continent becomes more independent. When Africa really changes, develops, it will also change the image of Africa in the West. And we are actually developing but there is still a lot of education needed, we still have a long way to go. "
d. What does the Source Connection-project do to create an image of the project and of the African continent in general?
"Spreading our knowledge, giving education that is needed to allow development to take place, that's exactly what we offer. Thus we provide a key element of development in the right way: by making people independent."