Source Connection: the report
The last 3.5 months, almost nowhere we saw as many tourists as in Livingstone. Of course we are heading towards high season, but the main reason for this is Livingstone for long being a tourist attraction. Bungee jumping at Victoria Falls, rafting on the Zambezi, safaris and a lot of hip hostels, it's all here. Moreover, Livingstone is very popular with Western volunteers. They combine the supporting of a development-project with the convenience and attractions that Livingstone has to offer.
West of Livingstone you can find approximately 60 km of Zambian land, before you reach the 4-nation-point, where Zambia joins Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia. This area is also called the Kazangula district. In 2000, Dorine Veldhuyzen traveled through this area and talked extensively with the villagers. She came across people full of ambition and dreams, but also those who lacked the knowledge and capabilities to make them a reality. From that insight , the Source Connection Foundation was born late 2001, with Dorine as chairlady. Self-reliance, knowledge and local coordination have been the pillars on which Source Connection started building its projects.
In late 2012, Source Connection started then, after a number of successful blueprints in Mandia and Katombora, with a new project: Agriculture and food-security in Zambia. Together with local partner "Farming God's Way (FGW) it's now giving training to people in rural areas. A lot of these people have already been farmers their whole life, but no one is being a full time farmer, because it was not possible to earn something of it. In addition, the production is so limited that they are still not fully independent of food aid. Within these problems, Source Connection is trying to make a difference. In2Afrika will go through the Kazangulu-disctrict for three days, simply to identify a number of issues for Source Connection. How are the people doing, what impact had the last (very dry) season, is FGW still being applied in the right way and what are the latest developments in the region?
Before we actually visit the projects along the Zambezi, we meet Pastor Elias Chunga. He is a trainer for FGW and the contactperson for Source Connection in Livingstone. About ten years ago he came in contact with FGW through his church. He followed the training and became more and more familiar with the methods and techniques of the organization that originated in Zimbabwe. In time, he even became a trainer for FGW. In 2011 he met Steven Trijsburg, boardmember of Source Connection. Along with Steven, he then went to work to also get foothold in the Kazangulu district with FGW.
After we visit the Sunday Mass in Elias' Future Hope Church, he introduces us to the principles that FGW works with. FGW is a method whereby it is assumed that God has given man everything to farm. The method is therefore fully organic. FGW also aims on structure and management: plant on time, with a high standard for structure and with minimal waste. In this way, the yields go up and there should be a surplus, which can be used for selling. According to Elias, Source Connection and FGW are good partners. "They aim on spreading knowledge, and we have the right knowledge to lift agriculture to a higher level."
On Tuesday we finally hit the road. Elias has only a motorcycle, so his brother in law Jacob is our driver for the next few days. We agreed on a pick up at 09:00, so at 10:00 Elias and Jacob show up at our place and we go to our first stop: Lioka-village. Lioka is the village of Freddy. Freddy is one of the farmers, who has fully implemented the methods of FGW in his garden. He is also incredibly motivated to bring his garden to a higher level with FGW. After having shaken the hand of the headman of the village and have been given permission to look around everywhere, Freddy takes us through the gardens in the village. This shows how difficult it is to get foothold with a new method. "All the people in the village have been working these gardens all their lives," Freddy tells us. "For these people to learn a new trick, that is very difficult. In addition, there are a lot of lazy people in Zambia. Why is there now, 13 o'clock in the afternoon, no one which is working in this garden? Mentality is a big problem here." FGW therefore doesn't assume that everyone who is in their training, is convinced immediately. If only one or two people take over the methods, one trusts that the revenues go up for those persons. The other people in the village seeing that success is the best motivation you can have. A better stimulus is not possible.
With Freddy, we also see how many factors are involved in the success of the agricultural project. After a flying start in the use of the methods of FGW, Freddy was offered a job at a nearby lodge. Such a possibility cannot be put down in Lioka, but the garden was sure to suffer. You're not a farmer full time here, so if another opportunity presents itself, the land will be soon left as it is. These are all conditions which Source Connection and FGW have work with.
After extensive goodbyes to Freddy, his children and the rest of Lioka, we continue our journey to Siandavu-village. In the yard of David Siandavu and his family we will spend the night. Apart from the village headman, Siandavu is also the secretary of Mr. Sekute, one of the four chiefs of the Kazangula district. We will be talking to him about the developments in the region and the role Source Connection can play in this according to him.
"There are many organizations active in the region, but sometimes I feel they work against each others purposes," Siandavu tells us. This is a sound that we heard earlier. FGW, for example, focuses purely on knowledge. Handing out free handouts in the region thereby is not a good motivator to say the least, says FGW, because it makes people even self-indulgent. When other organizations, however, are guilty of this giveaway practices, the philosophy of FGW will still amount to nothing. So the approach of one organization often crosses those of the other. "However, they also can complement each other very well! Take FGW. They focus on transferring knowledge. A single farmer who wants to grow, however, in my opinion sometimes requires an investment, an extra boost. This is currently beyond the reach of FGW / Source Connection, but other organisations could provide for this." What the visit to Siandavu makes clear to us is that not everyone sees knowledge as the key to success. Other organizations, but also the people in the villages sometimes have a different focus or thinking. Also, this is a circumstance FGW and Source Connection must take into account in their work.
After a great night camping under the Zambian star (with hippo-sounds in the background), we continue our journey towards Mushekwa-village. In Mushekwa, the gardens in the village are cared for by three women, Bettine, Edith and Josephine. They have fully implemented the methods of FGW in recent years. In Mushekwa we can see the possible results of the approach of Source Connection / FGW. By applying the appropriate techniques, surpluses arise, which can then be placed on the market. The ladies in Mushekwa then work together with the nearby Royal Chundu Lodge. The lodge provides the seeds of the vegetables they want to offer their guests and buy the vegetables then converted back from the ladies in Mushekwa. A great collaboration, with winners only: the women have a market for their products, the lodge can offer organic vegetables to their guests. One approach that might work for more farmers in the erea. In the region there are indeed lodges enough! After speaking with the manager of Royal Chundu, we conclude that the lodge benevolence plays a major role. But everything starts with the quality and the constant supply of the products. That's what the ladies of Mushekwa, with the help of FGW, can offer more and more.
After three days, we have gained a lot of impressions in rural Zambia. What the visits to the villages and people in recent days made clear to us is that not everyone sees knowledge as the key to success. Knowledge is the basis, but sometimes more is needed to make steps forward. The collaboration with the Royal Chundu Lodge in Mushekwa for example, shows that local environment play an important role in the solving the puzzle. Moreover, there are many other conditions that Source Connection and FGW must take into account. Mentality, other organizations, but for example also the loss of people due to illness or even an attack by a crocodile. And finally, there are factors which are simply not controled, such as rainfall and associated droughts. It's shows how complex the uplifting of a local community can be. But knowledge is an indispensable factor in all of this. Source Connection provides a vital contribution to that knowledge. We have collected enough material at least to help Source Connection and Farming God's Way to make a next step forwards.