The frontline of the climate crisis
In 2017 Zambia experienced a drought, and the consequences are still being felt today. Families have less and less food. The 2017 drought led to a limited harvest in 2018, causing food prices in Zambia to rise significantly. Now, some families are only eating three meals each week.
The 2020 harvest is also expected to be below average, so the situation will definitely get worse. The droughts have dried up the clean water supplies, so people are turning to less safe water sources. We see outbreaks of tuberculosis, cholera, and malaria because people who are already malnourished and don’t have safe water for drinking and washing.
The responsibility to collect water falls upon women and girls. As they travel further from home to find clean water, they are at increasing risk of sexual violence.
These droughts are placing young people at particular risk. To make ends meet many have to leave school, ending their education early. They have no choice but to enter into child-labour, with great risk of exploitation. Girls as young as 13 also face the prospect of being forced into marriages in exchange for money because their families are starving.
The 2020 harvest is also expected to be below average, so the situation will definitely get worse.Roselyn Waswa, Caritas Kabwe
At Caritas Kabwe we are working with communities on immediate and long-term solutions to the climate crisis. We’re constructing wells in areas where rivers dry up.
In 2017, with support from SCIAF and the Scottish Government, we began an initiative teaching people new, organic, farming techniques which is helping them to grow more food. By diversifying their crops, they are far better protected if one crop fails. We teach farmers not to rely solely on maize - they are shifting towards millet, sorghum and groundnuts. These crops are drought resistant and therefore give a good yield even with very little rain.
We also purchased goats for the participating farmers as they are very resistant to drought and diseases and they multiply quickly. The goat droppings can be used as organic manure so they don’t have to buy fertilizer, instead they use money for fertilizer to purchase their household food and pay school fees for their children.
In addition to farming skills, we’re teaching people to become entrepreneurial, finding products they can sell like chickens, or traditional fabrics, which allow them to make money in ways which don’t rely solely on farming and rainfall.
In 2019, we ran a food assistance programme for 200 of the most vulnerable households. With support from SCIAF we were able to make sure elderly people living with disabilities and pregnant women got the food they needed to survive. While we were able to help 200 households, there were many more we would have liked to reach.