Spreading Awareness About Fistulas in ZambiaFistulas in Zambia are still a devastating problem for impoverished, young mothers despite being preventable. An obstetric fistula occurs when a mother endures prolonged (oftentimes up to five days long) labor in which obstruction occurs. This obstruction then cuts off the blood supply and causes tissue death. Tissue death leads to holes between the vagina and bladder or rectum. Without treatment, fistulas can mean a woman will “uncontrollably leak urine, stool or sometimes both” for a lifetime. The Fistula Foundation and other organizations seek to help women suffering from fistulas in Zambia.

The Cost of Fistula Surgery

The fistulas come with a myriad of infections and chronic pain and can even cause nerve damage to the legs. While fistulas in Zambia are completely preventable and treatable, there are significant barriers to care for mothers. The surgical costs range from $100-400, an expense that is often far higher than what the majority of patients can afford.

4 Factors That Increase the Risk of Fistulas

  1. Malnutrition: Persistent malnutrition is linked to the development of a smaller pelvis, which increases the risk of an obstructed delivery, potentially leading to the formation of a fistula.
  2. Child Marriage: Early motherhood means the narrower pelvises of underdeveloped girls make an obstructed delivery more likely.
  3. Lack of Education: When young women are pulled out of school for marriage and childbearing without proper knowledge about their bodies, the delivery process and their reproductive systems, health consequences ensue. A lack of proper reproductive health education leads to a lack of awareness about the preventability and treatability of fistulas.
  4. Poverty: Poverty augments the chance of food insecurity, younger marriage, childbearing and sacrificing a woman’s education for family duties. Even more importantly, poverty makes access to healthcare that much more difficult. Fistulas are also more prevalent in births that take place outside of medical facilities as women undergoing an obstructed delivery are unable to get a C-section or emergency medical assistance.

In wealthier countries that properly address these four issues, fistulas are virtually unheard of, showing that poor health outcomes and poverty are inextricably linked.

Stigmatization of Fistulas in Zambia

While the medical ramifications of fistulas are devastating, these consequences come in conjunction with complete social ostracization and shame. Husbands often view the typically stillborn births that come with fistulas as a failure of the mother. It is very common for husbands to shame and abandon their wives, labeling the woman’s medical issues as personal failures.

Doctors often do not adequately inform women with fistulas that they have a legitimate medical issue. The abandonment from their husbands is soon joined by the same treatment from family and friends. The isolation and stigma increase the risk of depression among women suffering from fistulas. Lack of proper awareness and education means fistulas have become a source of shame. Hence, many women suffer in silence for decades, even until death.

Spreading Awareness Through Radio

In 2017, the Fistula Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing impoverished young women with proper and free medical attention for fistulas, launched a radio program to educate communities about fistulas in Zambia. The program reached extensively into many provinces of Zambia and mobilized many women to seek proper medical care to repair their fistulas at the six Zambian fistula care centers the organization established to perform the reconstruction surgery for free.

In 2019 alone, the Fistula Foundation performed 319 fistula repair surgeries, all free of charge. In total, the Foundation has aided in the provision of 774 surgeries. The Fistula Foundation also partnered with the famous Zambian singer Wezi to air a song about the dangers of fistulas. The spread of this song, through both radio and CDs, has created a surge in Zambian women seeking treatment. As a direct result of Wezi’s song, 56 women have sought treatment.

Grassroots Activism

In conjunction with the awareness campaigns and Wezi’s song, the Fistula Foundation has encouraged grassroots movements like the Safe Motherhood Action Group (SMAG) to work with community volunteers to spread awareness to help prevent fistulas and end stigma. SMAG leads discussions within communities about the dangers of child marriage with regard to the increased rates of fistulas in young mothers, the necessity of keeping girls in school and the importance of delivering children in medical facilities. SMAG has implemented more than 3,000 community outreach programs, reaching more than 90,000 people with crucial information about fistulas and interconnected social issues.

The Fistula Foundation heavily relies on community leaders to spread the word, designating them the “entry points” to communities and change. The organization’s work highlights the importance of creative community engagement and education initiatives in promoting proper care and destigmatization of fistulas in Zambia.

Jaya Patten
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Zambia
Child poverty remains an issue in Zambia, a country with a very young population. According to estimates, about 46% of Zambians are aged 14 and younger and the median age is one of the world’s lowest at a mere 16.8 years. The young average age is part of why child poverty is especially rampant in Zambia.

Child Poverty in Zambia

Nearly 42% of Zambia’s population is classified as extremely impoverished. As almost half the population consists of children, child poverty is a grave concern. Many Zambian children lack adequate healthcare, nutrition and housing. Families’ struggles for these basic needs force them to keep their children out of school, and instead, send them into the workforce. According to a U.S. Bureau of International Labor Affairs report, Zambia’s most prevalent form of child labor is agricultural work. Working children face long workdays and physical abuse as they attempt to earn an income to secure their basic needs.

Causes of Child Poverty in Zambia

The youthful country’s population continues to grow, which UNICEF considers the leading cause of its high child poverty rate. The fertility rate is 4.7 children per woman, with an annual population growth rate of 3.2%. An increase in children for those who are already not financially stable worsens monetary problems, and when many financially struggling families have more children, it causes a jump in child poverty.

About one out of five children in Zambia does not live with their parents, leading to a large number of children living on the streets. These children are susceptible to dangers such as abuse, alcohol and drug addiction and prostitution.

Despite the country’s efforts to eliminate gender disparities, which have allowed for girls to enroll in school in the same numbers as boys, education access remains an issue. Families struggle to pay fees required for attendance and battle to provide their children with the transportation needed to travel long distances to school.

Zambia’s large child population leaves schools struggling with overpopulation and lacking sufficient study materials. School buildings are unsafe, people rarely follow sanitation policies, teachers do not always have the qualifications needed and sexual abuse raises concern. In addition to poor school conditions, the pressure on children to provide for their families also leads to a decrease in children attending school.

CAMFED Zambia

Initiatives have emerged in order to combat child poverty in Zambia. For example, Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) is an organization that works to improve the likelihood of Zambian children remaining in school. Founded in 1993, the organization aims to improve children’s access to education and ensure they finish school.

Zambian girls are more likely to drop out of school than males, with 13% of girls in rural areas having no education compared with just 5% of males in urban areas. According to CAMFED, poverty, child marriage and early pregnancy are the main factors that keep girls in rural areas from attending school.

CAMFED provides girls and people with disabilities with comprehensive material and non-material support and helps make them aware of the full potential they can live up to. Inspiring words and material necessities work together to show how important education is.

CAMFED’s Achievements

As of 2021, CAMFED Zambia has expanded its operations from three districts to 47 districts across four provinces. Girls who have accepted its support have demonstrated a school completion rate of 96%, with 98% of girls making at least some progress in school.

CAMFED has supported about 6,787 government partner schools across more than 161 districts in not only Zambia but Zimbabwe, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi as well. The program has also managed to provide 376,898 students with secondary scholarships.

CAMFED works toward providing females with long-term support for their education, and, CAMFED’s reason is simple. Everyone should have an equal opportunity at living a full life, regardless of financial status. Through CAMFED Zambia, the children of Zambia are learning that receiving an education is possible and a life of poverty is not the only option.

Nia Hinson
Photo: Flickr

Libraries Helping Communities Around the World
Libraries are often the cornerstone of communities. Libraries offer people free internet, resources, events, workshops and books. These resources allow many people to pursue education. In the United States, more people have easy access to libraries than in developing nations. However, there have been libraries helping communities all over the world find creative ways to access the resources a library can provide.

The Zambia Library Service

The Zambia Library Service aims to bring more provincial and public libraries to the country, to improve the libraries in schools and colleges, and to provide more digital resources to educators. This library now has a collection of more than 60,000 books, despite struggling to receive government support. The library service started six provincial libraries that serve about 400,000 individual members and 850,000 institutions every year. Furthermore, it established the Zambia Knowledge Center in 2011 to help provide Zambia’s educators and students with a wealth of online sources from around the globe.

The library continues to advocate for the expansion of copyright laws so that more people can receive access to videos, e-books, audiobooks, journals and websites. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Zambia Library Service aims to provide new opportunities for community members to engage with the library. It hosts movie nights, events for International Girl Child Day and a Girl’s Club.

Bangkok’s The Library Train Project

Police Major General Jarumporn Suramanee started The Little Train Project in Bangkok in 1999. He converted two old train cars into a library and education center. These cars have a school area for classroom lessons and a library with books, computers and a television. Suramanee initiated this project because the number of homeless children in the city had been steadily increasing. As such, it was designed to give children an opportunity to receive an education, a place to stay during the day and options for a better future.

Bangkok’s library train features lessons in typical academic subjects and classes on topics such as manners, sports and gardening. Though children are not required to attend class, many enjoy coming to the library to use the resources it has to offer. Furthermore, the library has aided its patrons in other ways, such as helping individuals find a job or helping homeless children find families who want to take them in. It is also intentionally located in the park so it is as accessible as possible.

Norway’s The Bokbåten Epos

Norway’s The Bokbåten Epos was a boat that aimed to give books and other cultural resources to small, rural, fjord communities. The ship visited 150 small villages in less than a month after it was built in 1959. The boat was designed to hold 6,000 books, but it often circulated 20,000 books at a time. Furthermore, the ship would often bring other events such as concerts and plays—usually the only cultural events these villages would see in a year.

Unfortunately, The Bokbåten Epos shut down in 2020. This upset many Norwegian citizens. However, the government hopes to find a solution that is more cost-effective, environmentally friendly and that can access more areas. The Bokbåten Epos could also serve as a model for other libraries committed to helping communities.

Zimbabwe’s Donkey-Drawn Libraries

A nonprofit called Rural Libraries and Resources Development Programme (RLRDP) started a mobile library project to help provide more resources to Zimbabwe’s rural schools in 1990. These schools struggled to be acknowledged and receive the needed funding. These 15 mobile libraries can hold up to 1,000 books each. Additionally, four donkeys pull these books along to increase the distance the mobile libraries can travel.

These mobile libraries work with communities to tailor services to people’s needs, such as using bikes to deliver books or making more stops if there are elderly patrons or patrons with disabilities. Additionally, some of these carts have solar electricity and internet access that allow access to e-books and educational resources, as well as make it possible to hold movie events. These mobile libraries have helped nearly 1,600 people and have become an integral part of communities.

Many people who live in impoverished, rural areas do not have access to books or other services that libraries provide. These innovative libraries are focused on helping impoverished communities and have successfully helped thousands of people. Efforts like these around the world have the power to transform education in developing countries.

– Mikayla Burton
Photo: Flickr

Lead Poisoning in Children
For more than a century, the people of Kabwe, Zambia have lived with devastatingly high levels of lead exposure. In 1994, after 90 years, Kabwe’s lead mine shut down. More than 25 years later, the people of Kabwe still suffer the consequences of decades of unstable mining and nearly nonexistent clean-up efforts by mine owners. Environmental health authorities say Kabwe has unprecedented levels of lead contamination leading to lead poisoning in children.

The EPA “defines a soil lead hazard as 400 parts per million (ppm) in play areas and a 1,200 ppm average for bare soil in the rest of the yard.” Black Mountain, a favorite place for Kabwe’s children to play, measures a staggering 30,000-60,000 ppm. The “mountain” is a massive heap of refuse. Adults often crawl through make-shift tunnels mining for lead, copper, manganese and zinc to sell. With more than half of Zambia’s population living below the poverty line, mineral scavenging provides vital income. Many people who venture beyond the “DANGER KEEP AWAY!” warning outside the mine site, say the risk of lead poisoning is a necessity if they want to feed their families.

Children at Risk

Lead poisoning in children is at a disproportionate rate due to children’s developing bodies and brains. Children absorb four to five times more lead than their parents. Lead exposure can result in skin rashes, poor appetite, weight loss, cough, stunted growth, learning disabilities and death. Often, lead poisoning goes undetected until it is too late. Many families will hide their lead-poisoned children because they fear stigma due to their child’s symptoms. In Zambia, 45.5% of children live in extreme poverty. As a result, they do not often have access to proper healthcare to treat lead poisoning.

The World Bank Project

The World Bank is funding a $65 million project, the Zambia Mining and Environment Remediation and Improvement Project (ZMERIP). The project aims to reduce environmental risks in lead hot spots. It also seeks to assist the Zambian government in addressing the dangers of lead exposure and implementing safety protocols, providing health intervention and engaging mining companies in expanding awareness of their environmental and social responsibilities.

In 2020, the ZMERIP began the largest health intervention to address blood lead levels (BLLs) in children in Zambia. More than 10,000 children received lead poison testing. The CDC recommends a BLL in children of no more than 5 µg/dl. Of the children tested, 2,500 had BLLs of 45 µg/dl or more. Chelation therapy, “which binds the lead into a compound that is filtered out through the kidneys”, is the preferred treatment for children who test 45 µg/dl or higher. Children who test lower, receive vitamin supplements, iron and protein as treatment.

The World Bank attempted another project similar to the ZMERIP in 2011 but achieved little progress. With lessons learned, the World Bank is hopeful this new project will be successful. If the project attains the goals it has set out to complete, more than 70,000 people including 30,000 children will benefit from the information. While some Zambians have yet to realize the risks of lead exposure, the World Bank reports mostly positive responses to their health advocacy.

The Future for Zambia

For the children of Kabwe, the ZMERIP offers hope of reducing lead poisoning in children. It offers hope that play is not a risk and a toddler’s appetite for a fistful of dirt is not a life sentence by lead poisoning. The key to the project’s success is continuing prevention practices, education, remediation and the Zambian government’s obligation to enforce safety regulations after the project’s completion expected in 2022. The ZMERIP’s commitment places focus on improving the lives and futures of Kabwe’s most vulnerable and valuable asset, its children, the country’s future.

Rachel Proctor
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

POPs Effect on Health
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines persistent organic pollutants (POPs) as toxic chemicals that adversely affect human health. Wind and water can spread POPs from one country to another. They do not easily degrade, can travel through the food chain and from one animal species to another. They also bio-magnify. This means that animals that are higher on the food chain, such as humans, have higher concentrations of POPs in their systems than animals that are lower on the food chain due to ingesting more of them. As a result, POPs’ effect on health is significant.

POPs’ Effect on Health

Reproductive, developmental, behavioral, neurologic, endocrine and immunologic adverse health effects all have links to POPs. Exposure to high levels of certain POPs can cause serious damage or death to humans and wildlife.

POPs’ effect on health is due to the fact they accumulate in fats and do not easily dissolve in water. Children, the elderly and people with suppressed immune systems, as well those who rely on fishing and hunting, are most vulnerable. Babies can also ingest POPs through breast milk and the placenta.

The first 12 POPs and categories of POPs to receive recognition as hazardous are Aldrin, Chlordane, DDT, Dieldrin, Endrin, Heptachlor, Mirex, Toxaphene, PCBs, Hexachlorobenzene, Dioxins and Furans. Dioxins and Furans are unintentionally produced POPs (UPOPs). They are extremely toxic and serve no purpose.

International Cooperation

The Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Protocol on POPs and the Stockholm Convention, both seek to remedy the problem of POPs. The Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Protocol recognizes the 12 original legacy POPs along with four more whereas the Stockholm Convention recognizes 29 POPs. They encourage the use of effective, affordable and environmentally safe alternatives to POPs.

The U.S. has signed the Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Protocol on POPs and the Stockholm Convention but is not yet a party to either of them. This means that while the U.S. will not interfere with the two conventions, it is not bound by them.

POPs and the Human Diet

POPs affect chicken and one can find them in animal fat, cow’s milk, butter and fish. They also exist in vegetables, cereals and fruits in trace amounts. Also, fish can contain microplastics that POPs attach to easily. As a result, humans can ingest them.

POPs can affect children and young people in the following ways: birthweight, length of gestation, reduced seminal parameters, impaired semen quality, male genital anomalies, breast cancer in young women, in utero exposure associated with neurodevelopment and infant neurodevelopment.

Experts also associate the following developmental outcomes with POPs including a decrease in motor delay detectable from newborn to age 2 years old, defects in visual recognition memory at 7 months old, lower IQ at 42 months (maybe some contribution from postnatal exposure), defects in short term memory at 4 years old and delays in cognitive development at 11 years old.

POPs can also cause peripheral neuropathies, fatigue, depression, personality changes, hepatitis, enlarged liver, abnormal enzyme levels, porphyria cutanea tarda, chloracne, polyneuropathy, hepatomegaly and porphyria.

POPs are endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Because of this, they affect the pituitary gland, the thyroid glands, the parathyroids, the adrenal glands, the pineal glands, the ovaries and the testes. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has identified the best available techniques to implement the Stockholm Convention.

POP Threat Reduction: Zambia

A number of measures exist that can reduce the threat of POPs. Traditionally, hospitals burn their waste in low-temperature burning chambers creating UPOPs. Instead, hospitals could use an autoclave to safely and effectively clean the medical waste without producing UPOPs. Increasing public awareness can also help. Moreover, changes to electronics and recycling can also keep POPs from affecting the public.

Three key health facilities in Zambia are now using an autoclave. The NGO Health Care Without Harm provided it to the facilities.

POP Threat Reduction: Asia

Kazakhstan now also uses autoclaves to process medical waste. To date, six medical waste disposal sites, with two autoclaves each, are in existence in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has amended its environmental code to include UPOPs emissions. Kyrgyzstan has also received 13 autoclaves.

China has sought to educate the public through communication activities and campaigns about this problem. It has also piloted a design to reduce 20% of POPs in laptop design manufacturing.

In Indonesia, the UNDP is assisting the Ministry of Industry with following up on recommendations from the Stockholm Convention. They are doing this by reducing the emissions of toxic flame retardants and UPOPs resulting from unsound waste management and unsound recycling. Now, Indonesia is removing POPs in its recycling process. At present, Indonesia has reduced 190 metric tons of toxic flame retardants (PBDEs) and UPOPs from the manufacturing processes, recycling and disposal activities. Indonesia has also developed and implemented three pilot projects to access viable approaches for decontamination and the elimination of equipment contaminated with PCBs.

POP Threat Reduction: South America

Colombia has established a long-term development objective to strengthen institutions that manage PCBs. It is doing this by analyzing, quantifying and controlling them at a national scale and by promoting the development of PCB treatment and disposal. It has prepared a technical manual for the environmentally sound management of PCBs. Colombia has eliminated 1,600 tons of PCBs from contaminated oil, contaminated equipment and other wastes. With assistance from the electricity sector, Colombia now has four treatment plants for the environmentally safe management, decontamination, and disposal of PCBs. These pilot projects are responsible for labeling and identifying the PCB content of 3,500 pieces of electrical equipment to date. Colombia has also established 14 accredited laboratories for the analytical determination of PCB content.

Meanwhile, Ecuador has succeeded in eliminating 1,127 metric tons of PCBs from use. It has strengthened the development of national policies to manage PCBs by increasing PCB analytical capacities fourfold. Ecuador has accredited two laboratories for that purpose. In addition, it has successfully inventoried, collected, replaced and eliminated all PCBs from the Galapagos Islands with the goal of keeping Galapagos free of PCBs.

POPs’ effect on health is so varied that it is integral that people eliminate their use globally. Luckily, several parts of the world are doing their part to reduce their use in order to keep citizens safe.

– Wendy Redfield
Photo: Flickr

People of ZambiaOften when we think of the sub-Saharan region of Africa, we associate it solely with the conflict and tragedy that has burdened it for the majority of recent history. According to research done in 2019, there were 15 countries from the region involved in armed conflict. In the middle of this, however, lies the country of Zambia, which, contrary to some of its neighboring countries, has managed a peaceful transfer of power to self-rule, and more impressively, has implemented changes to become a democratic republic. Zambia has shown the very best of what united people can accomplish, regardless of the odds. And what is a country if not the very people who comprise it? As such, it is no surprise that a look into Zambian society reveals time and again the stories of unsung heroes who demonstrate unwavering altruism to their people and country.

Silumesii Maboshe – Co-founder of Bongohive

In 2011, Maboshe and his partners founded Bongohive with the objective to elevate the Zambian tech sphere to the next level. The organization functions as an incubator for tech startups throughout Africa but Maboshe has kept his focus on leveraging Bongohive’s operations to advocate and develop the ideas that serve to benefit Zambia in a capacity that goes beyond just the economic. “If I have one professional goal, it is the answer to this question. How can software and innovation change Zambia for the better?” Many of the 1300+ tech products that Bongohive has helped develop function to this end, one example being an app that allows constituents to comment on proposed changes in legislation. Beyond the development of products, the organization serves also as an open platform for techies seeking general advice and hosts dozens of events annually that pertain to technology and business within Zambian society. Maboshe understands that if Zambia is to realize a brighter future it must include a thriving tech culture. The invaluable role Bongohive is playing to that end cannot be overstated.

Christopher Malambo – Sanitation Activist

It is an issue that most are too uncomfortable to actively advocate for, but the fact is that approximately 90% of child deaths are attributed to poor sanitation and the spread of disease that is a result thereof. Additionally, the World Bank reports an annual monetary loss to the African continent of $5.5 billion as a result of poor sanitation. Malambo’s efforts directly combat these staggering statistics. The focus of his activism is toward the decreasing but still prevalent number of communities in Zambia that still practice open defecation. His first objective when entering a new village is education because many of the typical residents lack even a basic understanding of the importance of good sanitation and the adverse effects of a lack thereof. After demonstrating the danger inherent in open defecation, he then organizes and assists in the digging of latrines. Malambo’s unwavering selflessness and commitment to service in the name of saving lives represents the very best of what makes the people of Zambia truly remarkable.

Dorothy Phiri – Founder of Mercy Ministries

In 1996, Phiri founded Mercy Ministries in response to a higher calling. Today the organization works to provide education through the Chifundo Community School, which was the first project started by the Phiri’s. The organization especially focuses on orphans, disabled children and other vulnerable children who are unable to have their needs met by government-funded schooling. Additionally, Phiri provides a means for children of financially struggling families to attend school. Though Zambia does provide free schooling to all its residents, many families still struggle to fund basic schooling needs such as books and uniforms. In a region where the demands of maintaining a livelihood are prioritized over education, Phiri’s commitment to the people of Zambia aims to change the status quo.

These individuals and their stories are but a microcosm of the exceptionalism that defines the people of Zambia. With the efforts of Zambia’s exceptional people, the narrative of the entire region can begin to change for the better.

– Christian Montemayor
Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in ZambiaIn the  African nation of Zambia, gender-based violence and discrimination greatly disadvantage women. Women’s rights in Zambia play an important role in combating poverty and discrimination in the country. Nonprofit and grassroots organizations have stepped in to fight for women’s rights in Zambia. These organizations are working to make Zambia a more fair and equal society for women and girls.

The State of Women’s Rights

According to a 2007 countrywide Demographic Health Survey, nearly 50% “of all women had experienced physical violence since they were 15” —  a rate much higher than the World Health Organization’s worldwide estimate of 30%. Among Zambian women who had experienced physical abuse, 77% reported that the abuse came from a former or current partner. The victim support unit of the Zambia Police Service reported 5,040 cases of gender-based violence in the first quarter of 2020.

Zambian women also face discrimination in employment and land ownership. A 2011 survey reported that 60% of women aged 15-49 had jobs compared to nearly 100% of men. Many of the employed women reported that their positions were unpaid.  Furthermore, women with paid employment typically earned less than their male counterparts. Discrimination, financial barriers and cultural norms make land ownership very difficult for women. Many women have less wealth than men, particularly in rural areas. Furthermore, in traditional marriages, it is still not customary for men and women to have equal rights of ownership.

The Zambia Alliance of Women

Founded in 1978, the Zambia Alliance of Women (ZAW) seeks to provide support for women in the aspects of agriculture and land ownership. The organization currently has 3,000 members and operates in seven regions throughout Zambia. The ZAW ‘s mission is to support women in accessing land and agricultural education and teach them sustainable agricultural practices. Some of these projects include the Women Caucus on Climate Smart Agriculture program funded by the African Women Development Fund. The organization has spearheaded many other projects that empower Zambian women in the field of agriculture.

Women and Law Southern Africa

Women and Law Southern Africa (WLSA) is a nonprofit operating in several countries in Southern Africa. The WLSA was founded in 1989 by a group of female lecturers from several universities in the southern region of Africa. The organization uses education and research to advocate for the reform of legislation that unfairly impacts the lives of women and girls. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that some of the key issues the WLSA works to address are “inheritance, maintenance, family law, justice delivery systems and gender violence.” The Zambian sector of the organization has worked with Zambia’s government to lobby for law and policy reform to support women’s rights.

The Zambia National Women’s Lobby

The Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL) seeks to affect change through the involvement of women in government. Established in 1991, the ZNWL advocates for women’s representation in parliament and other political structures. For example, in 2008, its Men’s Network Project collected more than 5,000 men’s signatures for a petition to make sexual intercourse with a child under 16 a non-bailable offense. The petition was later presented to members of the Zambian parliament. The ZNWL also received a grant award of $25,000 from the United States Embassy in 2014. The grant is part of the embassy’s Full Participation Fund, which raises awareness about the importance of women’s involvement in government.

Women for Change Zambia

Established in 1992, Women for Change Zambia (WFC) strives to improve conditions in rural communities by empowering women and girls. One of its top priorities is education. WFC works to re-enroll teenage girls in school and prevent others from dropping out due to early marriage, pregnancy or other preventable reasons. The organization also works with parents and teachers in order to provide girls who return to school with as much support as possible.

Women’s success is key to the development and growth of Zambian communities. With awareness of gender equity issues increasing, partly through the work of the organizations presented, there is hope for women’s rights in Zambia.

– Imani Smikle
Photo: Flickr

EcovillagesGreen growth refers to economic growth through the use of sustainable and eco-focused alternatives. These “green” alternatives benefit both the economy and the environment all while contributing to poverty reduction. Ecovillages are a prime example of an environmentally conscious effort to address global poverty. They are communities, rural or urban, built on sustainability. Members of these locally owned ecovillages are granted autonomy as they navigate a solution that addresses the four dimensions of sustainability: economy, ecology, social and culture.

The Global Ecovillage Network

The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) recognizes that all four facets of sustainability must be addressed for maximum poverty reduction. Solely focusing on the economic or environmental impact will not yield optimal results. Embracing, not eliminating, the social and cultural aspects of sustainability should the aim of all communities in order to move toward a better future.

The development of sustainable communities around the globe is a commitment of the GEN. The organization’s outreach programs intend to fuel greater global cooperation, empower the citizens of the world’s nations and develop a sustainable future for all.

Working with over 30 international partners, GEN focuses on five defined regions. GEN Africa was created in 2012 and has overseen developments in more than 20 communities across the continent.

A Focus on Zambia

Zambia is one the countries garnering attention. Over half of Zambia’s population — 58% — falls below the $1.90 per day international poverty line. The majority of the nation’s impoverished communities live in rural regions.

Zambia’s government addresses these concerns by integrating the U.N.’s sustainable development goals into its development framework. With a focus on economic and ecological growth, Zambia could lay the groundwork for the success of its’ ecovillages.

Planting the Seed

The Regional Schools and Colleges Permaculture (ReSCOPE) Programme recognizes youth as the future keepers of the planet. As well as Zambia, the program has chapters in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The focus is on establishing regional networks to strengthen sustainable efforts. The Zambia chapter along with its 17 newly joined organizations work toward the goal of educating and encouraging communities to find sustainable methods of food production.

ReSCOPE seeks to connect schools and their local environments through the Greening Schools for Sustainable Communities Programme. The program is a partnership between GEN and ReSCOPE and has received funding from the Scottish government. Through education and encouraging sustainable practices, Zambia’s youth have an active role in ensuring future growth.

Greening Schools

Greening Schools strengthens the communities of four schools — the centers of resilience and a source of community inspiration. Beginning with nutrition and food security, students are able to play a part in developmental change. Their hard work includes planting of hundreds of fruit trees. The schools became grounds for hands-on agricultural experience and exposure to the tending of life.

However, the impact was not restrained within the schools. The greening schools inspired local communities to make seed security and crop diversification a commitment. In 2019, these communities “brought back lost traditional crops and adopted intercropping and other agroecological practices.”

As part of their sustainable development goals, the U.N. recognizes the value of investing in ecovillages. Goals 11 and 12 stress the importance of sustainable communities and responsible consumption and production respectively. Educating and advocating for youth to take part in ecovillages addresses this matter.

Coming generations will determine the future, and the youth wield the power to address global concerns like sustainability and poverty. Ecovillages are a great new way to break the cycle of poverty.

Kelli Hughes
Photo: Unsplash

ColaLife in ZambiaColaLife is an independent non-governmental organization, co-founded in 2008 as an online movement and transformed into a United Kingdom-based charity in 2011. The organization started with the realization that even in developing countries, Coca-Cola is accessible but lifesaving medicines are not. Despite scientific advances and discoveries, in 2017, almost 1.6 million people died from diarrheal diseases globally. ColaLife has made efforts to improve access to diarrheal treatments in the most remote areas of the world. ColaLife has operated with the help of more than 10,000 supporters and donors that allow for an effective response to the second leading cause of death in children worldwide. ColaLife in Zambia marked the beginning of these efforts.

ColaLife in Zambia

ColaLife in Zambia marked the beginning of an impressive effort to save the lives of children with diarrhea. The solution had to be immediate since the high numbers of diarrheal deaths in the region revealed that global efforts were insufficient and ineffective.  A whole three decades ago, Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and zinc were known as an effective combination treatment for patients with diarrhea. However, 99% of children do not receive these treatments.

ColaLife Operational Trial Zambia (COTZ):  Kit Yamoyo

COTZ was created as a custom project for Zambia under the recommendations of the WHO and UNICEF. The project aimed to distribute diarrhea treatment kits, called Kit Yamoyos, that contain Oral Rehydration Salts and zinc and promote the importance of handwashing by adding soap. The project implemented the founding logic of the organization and analyzed Coca-Cola’s distribution model to distribute the treatments in the most rural and remote areas of the country, specifically to mothers and children under 5 years of age.

ColaLife in Zambia, with the consent of Coca-Cola and its bottling company, SABMiller, coined the “AidPod” package, designed to fit into the unused portion of the crated bottles. This innovation proved that the supply chain could play a fundamental role in the accessibility of these treatments.

Currently, the initiative no longer needs the innovative hand of ColaLife. Kit Yamoyos are being produced and sold by local companies, reaching 1.2 million sales by the end of 2019. This number represents one million people whose lives have been saved. The Zambian Government is the largest customer for the kit and has contributed significantly to this cause. These kits are now easily found in supermarkets and are also sold by informal street vendors.

Extended Scope

The WHO has included in its Essential Medicines List (EML) the combination of ORS and zinc as a treatment for diarrhea. This milestone shows commitment, but above all, the success that the organization has had. The success of COTZ has shown that the solution pursued by ColaLife in Zambia has had a substantial impact. The organization would like to replicate the self-sustained impact that was made in Zambia in other parts of the world. ColaLife wants to continue promoting the treatment to save the lives of millions of children globally. Access to these kits could be the global solution to preventable deaths caused by diarrhea.

– Isabella León Graticola
Photo: Flickr

child poverty in ZambiaZambia is a landlocked country that lies between Southern and Central Africa. The majority of Zambia’s 17.5 million population is under the age of 18, and over half of the population earns below the international poverty line of less than $2 per day. According to the World Bank, the estimated median age is 16.7, making evident the country’s severely imbalanced dependency ratio. This means that the dependent population (younger than 15 and older than 65) is much larger than the workforce can adequately support. While in the past few years Zambia has made progress in increasing access to nutrition and education, children in Zambia still lack a variety of necessities. In Zambia, 45.4% of children live in extreme poverty and 800,000 children still do not attend school.

What Is Family Legacy?

Family Legacy is a nonprofit organization based in Irving, Texas that seeks improvement in both of those areas for the most affected children of Lusaka, Zambia. In a variety of ways, the organization aims to reduce child poverty in Zambia by ensuring that these children have the opportunity to attend school. There, they get one hot meal every day and extra food to take home when they have good attendance. “This makes the parents more likely to let the kids go to school, and not be forced to work,” a Family Legacy volunteer said.

What Is Being Done to Fight Child Poverty in Zambia?

Family Legacy has four programs to meet its goal of alleviating child poverty in Zambia. The first, Legacy Academy, focuses on the Academics pillar, one of the organization’s four pillars of care. This main school program ensures that the children it serves receive primary and secondary education with all the necessary materials. The second program, Tree of Life, focuses on the physical and emotional pillars. Tree of Life is a residential community that provides children who have been through physical or emotional trauma with a safe place to live while they attend school. The third program, Excel Beyond, also focuses on the academics pillar. This program is designed to support the high school graduates of Legacy Academy while they build the foundation of a successful career. Finally, Camp Life represents Family Legacy’s spiritual pillar. The week-long experience seeks to bring hope and emotional growth to the Academy students.

Family Legacy’s success can be attributed to its three-tier approach, combining education, nourishment and the inclusion of benefits to the families of these children in need. The organization’s programs saw a ninth grade completion rate that was 18% higher than the national average last year. In addition, it has 156 students currently pursuing higher education. To help with curbing hunger in Zambia, Family Legacy distributes 4 million meals annually.

What Can We Do to Help?

Family Legacy’s progress is achieved via activities in multiple parts of the globe. In Dallas, volunteers pack meals, distribute clothes, gather supplies and find sponsors. Sponsorships are programs in which a family or individual provides the financial means for a child in Lusaka to attend school and receive meals and extra food. In Lusaka, volunteers make up the summer staff of Camp Life, participate in medical internships, assist with the graduation ceremonies of Tree of Life and Legacy Academy and participate in activities with the other Tree of Life children. Beginning to get involved in the fight against global poverty seems like a daunting task, but Family Legacy makes it easier than ever to fight child poverty in Zambia.

– Carolina Larracilla
Photo: Wikimedia Commons