Monday, December 13, 2010


Compiled by: Stanley Mpasa.
District Coordinator.

After years of service delivery, ADRA is now moving towards empowering the communities to strengthen their self sufficiency. The Communities, through the various CBGs, are trained in various areas and access information on a variety of subjects through channels like Community Dialogue Sessions, Theatre for Development and Mass Media. This information opens their eyes to their rights and the issues taking place around them. This makes them better placed to recognize issues that are adversely affecting their daily lives and empower them to look for ways of solving the problems themselves instead of waiting for outside help. They are made aware of the various avenues open to them and how to use them to achieve their goals. This shift in strategy was received with reservations at the beginning but now seems to have taken hold. The people now appreciate the importance of this strategy and are responding positively.

In Nkando, Mulanje, the story is no different. Two Farmers’ Clubs, Tadala and Mulambe, of GVH Muriya, through their discussions, recognized that there was more to the low yields being realized from their fields than met the eye. Their discussions and consultations showed that a big part of the reason was the loss of top soil that was making the fields less fertile. They also realized that merely replacing the fertility through the recommended methods like applying compost manure would not be very effective as the loss of soil would continue. It was, therefore, crucial to address the root cause of the soil loss. They determined that this was caused by the large volumes of rain water that is flowing down through their fields without being controlled as there is very scant vegetation to hold the soil together and to slow down the water. This made them realize that the lasting solution lay in the replacement of the trees that had been cut down so wantonly.

The two Farmers’ Clubs, through the area’s AEDEC and the ADRA CDF approached the area’s Forestry Officer and presented their problem. He agreed to help them raise seedlings using seeds that would be collected locally and also show them how the trees should be planted and how they should be cared for. After the seed collection had started, they realized that the quality was not very good and the ADRA CDF suggested that the ADRA District Office get in touch with Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust, which has experts that deal with the conservation of nature around the mountain, for help. The Trust was approached through the Forestry Office, Mr. Kayembe, who agreed to help despite Nkando being outside their impact area. He agreed to our request to give basic training on nursery management to the farmers and to provide some tree seeds of the types that are suitable for the Nkando area. To our delight, he added that he would also donate some planting tubes and give us more seed than we had asked for.

A meeting with the farmers was organized on 18th August, 2010, inorder to discuss in detail what the farmers’ aims were and how they planned to run both the nurseries and the forests. The farmers explained what they were aiming for and how they planned to achieve it. In the end they were advised on what type of trees they needed to plant and how they can raise them in the nursery. They were also advised that they need to manage the forests through community participation to strengthen the sense of ownership. It was also mentioned that the farmers needed to plant some of the trees, especially those with high medicinal value like moringa, around their homes. Most importantly, the farmers were advised to take farming activities as business where they should always aim to get a return for everything they do. The farmers were also commended for deciding to replace the vegetation in their communities as, apart from solving the erosion and fertility problems, the activity would also help in the fight against climate change. This meeting was attended Juliet Pandwe, Director of Community Social Rights Advocates of Zambia, who was visiting MMCT to learn how her Organisation can help the Zambians replace the vegetation had had been destroyed. A second meeting was arranged 1st September, where a demonstration was held on how to fill the planting tubes with soil and how to plant the seeds correctly as the planting differs according to the type of seed. They were also taught how to take care of the plants during their growth in the nursery.

The seeds were successfully planted and the plants are now ready for planting out in the field as can be seen in the photographs attached. MMCT offered to come again to advise the farmers on how to plant the seedlings out in the field and give them a few tips on field management. It is also very encouraging to see that four nurseries have been established using the seed and planting pots that were donated by MMCT and it is hoped that when planting out is completed, significant areas will be covered.

The people of Muriya are very grateful for the great assistance that has been given and they hope this relationship will continue for a long time to come.

Note: photos for this blog were obtained from the following sites:
photo 1: Moringa plant:
photo 2: Seedlings:
photo 3: Drawing:

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