Food, Glorious Food!
Today on the blog we are talking about Food Security and what that means in Zambia and more specifically for our neighbors here in Fimpulu.
FOOD SECURITY: TECHNICALLY
Food security, in technical terms means four things:
of a sufficient quantity
of high quality food.
In other words, for a family to be food secure, there must be plenty of really good, nutritious food, right there and ready to eat all the time.
If you live in the first world – in a place with grocery stores and refrigerators, in a country trying to eat less food and not more – then the idea that millions of families are actually food insecure might be a hard concept to wrap your mind around.
In Zambia, upwards of 60% of the population is considered “food inadequate.” This means that almost 10 million people do not have enough, good food on a regular basis. The ramifications of food insecurity are drastic. Over 7 million Zambian’s are considered malnourished, and over half of all children are classified as permanently stunted.
BRINGING IT CLOSER
So what does this look like in Fimpulu?
It looks like skinny kids with distended bellies and copper colored hair.
It looks like funerals for three year olds who simply wasted away.
It looks like developmental delays due to lack of proper nutrients.
It looks like chronic health issues due to deprived immune systems.
It looks like failing to sit up straight in school because of hunger pangs.
It looks like girls trading sex for an extra bag of food for her family.
SO WHAT EXACTLY CAUSES FOOD INSECURITY?
Good question! Here are some answers.
Most experts would say that rural Zambia suffers from food insecurity because of lack of education, resources and infrastructure. But what does that mean? What exactly is needed? Well, in Fimpulu we can break down the macro-level causes of food insecurity by highlighting the four main challenges:
1) Goats & pigs.
Because goats and pigs free range in order to feed themselves, any attempt at a household garden basically becomes an animal buffet, so most people don’t even try. And because Fimpulu is a subsistence agriculture society, if people don't grow it, they don't eat it. And thanks to goats and pigs, little is being grown.
2) No water.
Seasonally, Zambia experiences six months straight of rain followed by six months straight of drought. What that means is that for those who are willing to fight the destruction of animals, those farmers still only have water for their gardens six months out of the year. What this translates to is a minimum of six months of no food production.
3) Maize monotony.
Since fresh food is hard to come by, people focus on growing maize in bulk during the rainy season so that they will at least have maize meal for nshima – the staple food of Zambia. Nshima (white corn/maize meal and water) comprises the largest part of the Zambian diet and, while an important source of calories, is of little nutritional value.
4) Storage crisis.
What maize is grown is then completely sold to the government because… where are we going to keep it? Eventually, people will end up buying back their maize a bit at a time, but at double the price, leaving little money left over to buy nutritious food.
SO HOW CAN WE SOLVE THESE PROBLEMS?
I’m so glad you asked! Despite the fact that these problems have existed for generations, solutions are within reach! Here are the four solutions corresponding to the four main problems.
1) Goats and Pigs? PEN THEM UP.
Not rocket science. The reason why pigs and goats free-range is because fencing on a household level is cost prohibitive. However, at Choshen Farm, we have created a livestock owners cooperative whereby all goats and pigs from a given region are penned up to remove the threat. Periodic sales from offspring are used to buy and maintain fencing, creating a sustainable program and freeing everyone up to plant without concern!
2) No water? INSTALL PUMPED AND PIPED WATER SYSTEMS.
The 6 month long drought season can be eliminated with the installation of pumped and piped water systems bringing an abundance of water to every household and allowing for garden irrigation and food production year round.
3) Maize monotony? SEED DISTRIBUTION.
Once household gardens are a real possibility thanks to the absence of goats and the presence of water, families can start thinking about the variety of foods needed to become and stay healthy. Foods like cabbage, soybeans, tomatoes, peanuts and carrots can be grown so long as education and seeds are provided to get the ball rolling.
4) Storage Crisis? STORAGE DRUMS.
Plastic drums with tight sealing clamps can easily store a year’s worth of maize for a family allowing them to have access to their staple food – an important source of calories – year round.
PROBLEMS IDENTIFIED. PROBLEMS SOLVED.
A COMPREHENSIVE and well COORDINATED effort stands an excellent chance of completely ELIMINATING hunger and malnutrition across the region. By fencing in animals, installing water systems, distributing seeds and providing storage drums, we can absolutely change the statistics of Fimpulu to ensure every household is food SECURE!
So what is needed to make this happen?
Here’s the truth:
We have the man power.
We have the technical expertise.
We have the community buy-in.
We need funding for implementation.
Thus far in our food security fundraising we’ve raised roughly $20,000 of the necessary $80,000 to bring fencing, water, seeds, and storage to the families of Fimpulu.
How can we help?
Thank you for your willingness to help! Here are some ideas to get you started:
Every penny helps and YES – you are making a difference. Visit https://www.choshenfarm.org/donate/ for more info.
(2) Get social!
Tap into the compassion of your social media network by launching a crowdfunding campaign! By setting a goal on a platform such as GoFundMe or You Caring (“I’m trying to raise $500 for food and water in Zambia!”), you can rally social engagement and make it easy for friends to give to a great cause!
(3) Make the ask on our behalf!
Have a party! Or a get together! Or an info session! Or whatever works in the circles you run in! Invite friends over and make it fun. How about a “Wine for water” party, or an “Eat so they can eat” dinner where your friends can sip wine or chow down and learn what it takes to sink a well or provide food in rural Zambia. Cap off the night with a chance to donate and see just how far your impact can go!
Ready to get started? Get in touch with us for additional promo materials or to make a donation today!