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Poverty Alleviation Projects

September 30, 2009

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your September 2009 report for The $10 Club.

Zimbabwe continues to be in the news… for all the wrong reasons. HIV / AIDS is now the cause of one in four maternal deaths. September’s rainy season has led to new outbreaks of cholera. Food insecurity is pervasive, with an estimated seven million people – half the population – living on donated food. And students are unable to afford the tests required to advance through school.

Lupote Village borders Hwange National Park and as such is located in a human-wildlife conflict zone. It is situated in a Kalahari sand ecosystem and is a deprived farming area with erratic rainfall and poor, infertile soil. The community suffers from malnutrition and poverty due to lack of economic development, factors leading to relatively high occurrence of HIV / AIDS. Historically, Lupote has been a hot bed of illegal wildlife poaching for food.

In 2004, the Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) project secured funding to drill a borehole at Lupote School and thus provide a secure source of water, which in turn facilitated the development of a nutritional garden. Utilizing skill sharing, conservation education, and training, the garden aimed to provide the community with a reliable food source. The goal was to reduce the reliance on illegal bushmeat (the flesh of wild animals taken in the forest, including threatened and endangered species) and to improve overall levels of health. An additional bonus was the production of cash crops, which helped alleviate economic hardships.

Fully operational now, the Lupote Garden Project is self-sustaining after only three years, and this successful model is now being taken to the Vukuzenzele Community Garden.

The Vukuzenzele Community Garden is situated 27 kilometers from the PDC head office on the highway to Victoria Falls at an area better referred to as Cross Dete. The 2.1 hectare garden was started in April 1992 by a group of 9 people with the objective of supplementing their household food supply and raising their economic status through the sale of garden products. The garden has now expanded to accommodate 44 people (39 women and 5 men) with a total of 500 cultivated beds.

The group is well organized with a five tier committee. The Apex Committee leads four sub committees (Water, Works, Health and Disciplinary) who help with the management. Vukuzenzele has an agreed group-constitution and books of records that guide its operations. The group holds an account with a local Post Office bank where they deposit the proceeds from sales.

The 2006 / 2007 rainy season was a disaster for the garden, highlighting the need for a reliable source of water. Vukuzenzele approached PDC for assistance having learned about the success of the Lupote Garden. While seeking the required funding, PDC encouraged the idea of practicing less water dependant, permaculture gardening techniques.

This month, 340 of us joined together to donate $3,400 to Painted Dog Conservation to increase productivity and income levels of subsistence farmers through the provision of a secure water supply and promotion of improved crop management practices and technical support. Specifically, we will be funding the installation of a water pump and related equipment to enable water retrieval. Thank you.

Our support will enable the community to have a secure source of water for the Vukuzenzele Garden Project; complete the garden infrastructure and bring it up to standard level with the Lupote garden; improve nutritional levels in the Ndangababi community where people are vulnerable to HIV infection due to high malnutrition levels; and address gender inequality by providing opportunities for women’s economic empowerment.

With a reliable source of water, Vukuzenzele expects to raise the standard of living through growing and selling a good variety of vegetables to adjacent Safari Lodges and hotels where demand for vegetables is high and increasing.

Vukuzenzele group has always wished to have a vegetable stall at the business center and this is now possible. The stall is aimed at harnessing all the marketing business activity under one roof as a way of attracting more customers.

Furthermore, the group will be able to team up with their children who attend the Ndangababi Primary School (a model that has worked for a nearby Lupote school).

In the wake of HIV/AIDS pandemic, nutritional gardens serve a vital purpose of providing necessary food supplements for a balanced diet, which is, of course, integral to good health.

With political instability still running high and nongovernmental organizations on the ground receiving little support, it is difficult to know how to get assistance to the people in Zimbabwe in desperate need. I’m so pleased to have good contacts with groups like Painted Dog Conservation who not only want to save wildlife, but the people who live near these wild animals as well.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,
Adam


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