Ever since mankind made the transition from hunter-gatherer to agrarian society about 10,000 years ago, most of the world’s population relies on farming and other agricultural activities for food.
In many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Zambia many millions are reliant not just on farms for food, but must rely on themselves to grow enough food for themselves and their families, and hopefully have surplus crops to be able to sell at local markets.
The challenges for these small-holder farmers, a large percentage of them women, are many and great – especially regarding having adequate rainfall during the growing season in these times of climate change which cause extensive drought leaving farmers with nothing as all they can do is watch the crops wither and die.
But in these countries Bread and Water for Africa® has been working for two decades to support agricultural programs leading to food self-sufficiency and economic independence on both large and small scale projects.
For example, in Kenya, working with our longtime international spokesperson Phyllis Keino and Jos Creemers, manager of the Baraka Farm, over more than 20 years we have been witness to their efforts in transforming 500 barren acres into a thriving agricultural and dairy producing operation which supports Phyllis’ mission as director of the adjacent Lewa Children’s Home.
In Sierra Leone, after years of a brutal civil war and the tragic, deadly Ebola outbreak in 2014/15, Bread and Water for Africa® longtime partner there, Rev. Francis Mambu, director of the Faith Healing Development Organization, is not daunted – in fact he is more determined than ever to restore agricultural production to his country.
Bread and Water for Africa® supports FHDO’s own large-scale rice farming operations through the purchase of farming equipment including tractors and more recently following the Ebola outbreak when farming activities all but ceased in the country, thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide Rev. Mambu with a rice planter/harvester which allowed him to greatly increase production on his land.
In addition, through FHDO programs, Bread and Water for Africa® has provided support to hundreds of small holder farmers – again almost all women struggling to raise their children – by providing seeds and seedlings for plants such as groundnuts (peanuts) at the start of the growing season.
Most recently we are working on a program to provide women with cassava (yucca) plants which, when mature, they sell to a processing plant owned by FHDO which converts the cassava into flour. The women then buy the flour at wholesale prices which they sell at their local markets – in effect making two profits on the same product.
In Zambia, Bread and Water for Africa® supports the efforts of our partner there the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre to have a banana plantation to support the orphanage, similar to the model created by Phyllis for Baraka Farm and Lewa Children’s Home. The banana plantation, started in 2007, was so successful that a few years later Bread and Water for Africa® provided funding for Kabwata director Angela Miyanda to double the size of the planation.
Then, in 2015, Angela came up with the idea to expand her food producing activities with pisciculture, more commonly known as “fish farming.” Bread and Water for Africa® provided her the “seed” money to construct ponds each containing 3,000 tilapia fish which mature in 90 to 120 days not only providing fish for the children, but making thousands of dollars in profits annually.
And in Zimbabwe, Bread and Water for Africa® partner, Shinga Development Trust, is not set up using modern farming mechanisms such as Baraka Farm, but instead utilizes a more traditional farming method known as “Farming God’s Way.”
As explained by Shinga director Margaret Makambira, “Farming God’s Way” stresses teacher farmers to build a sustainable farming method by managing the land, maintaining minimum wastage, no ploughing, and rotation of the crops.
From large scale modern farming to assisting small holder farmers subsisting on the small tracts of land, Bread and Water for Africa® places a high value on agricultural programs, and rightly so as so many lives depend on the success of farmers, big and small.
A series of Shona and later Ndebele empires dominated in the millennium prior to the onset of British colonialism, which began in the 1880s. With most other African nations independent by the mid 1960s, Ian Smith, a white Zimbabwean, unilaterally declared independence from the UK in 1965. He set up a white supremacist government that was effective in maintain economic production (mostly based on agriculture), but bore the brunt of a protracted guerrilla war and economic sanctions.
In 1979, Smith signed a peace treaty with the main rebel movements in the United Kingdom, which allowed for a quick transition to majority rule. However, Robert Mugabe, one of the leaders of the independence movement, has been president since independence and is widely condemned for election rigging, organizing political violence, and overseeing the collapse of the economy in the last decade. The economic collapse is closely related to dispute of land ownership, with an ill-fated attempt to redistribute land away from the white owners (who constitute a very small part of the population but own almost all of the best land) resulting in the fall-off in agricultural productivity. Widespread violence surrounding the disputed 2008 presidential elections has led to a coalition government and a marginally more stable political situation.
Population – 11,651,858
Median Age – 17.8 years
Population Growth Percentage – 2.954%
Life Expectancy – 47.55 years
Literacy – 90.7%
Average Number of Years of Schooling – 9 years (male and female)
Urban population – 37%
English is the sole official language and widely spoken. Shona and Sindebele are officially recognized ethnic languages (though there are many others), and one or the other is spoken natively by the vast majority of the population (principally Shona, the language of the largest ethnic group).
The two largest ethnicities are Shona (82%) and Ndebele (14%). There are very small white and Asian minorities.
Mostly Christian, with much influence from traditional beliefs.
GDP Per Capita – Less than $100 (2009 est.)
GDP Composition by Sector:
Services: 56.9% (2009 EST.)
Labor Force by Occupation:
platinum, cotton, tobacco, gold, ferroalloys, textiles/clothing
What it is known for:
Ancient ruins of Great Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls, wildlife
BWA’s Focus Areas in Zimbabwe:
Women’s Literacy and Empowerment Programs
Local Partner: Shinga Development Trust
Local Partner Director: Margaret Makambira
Area Served: Mutare, Zimbabwe
Program Goal: Primary education, women’s literacy, vocational skills training, orphan care and food self-sufficiency.
Program Services Provided: Primary education, women’s literacy, vocational training, orphan care and food self-sufficiency.
Number of Program Beneficiaries: More than 700 individuals in the city of Mutare.
Current Needs: Ongoing feeding programs, school fees and vocational training costs, operating of the farm, construction of orphans home.
Shinga Development Trust, formerly known as Emmanuel Ministries, is an outreach program serving Mutare, Zimbabwe. Until 2013 Shinga also served the people of Manica, Mozambique through orphan care, schools, and skills training programs but was able to integrate their programs with the benefitting communities and eventually transfer the management of daily operations to local community leaders. This was a great success for Shinga – and for us at Bread and Water for Africa – in fulfilling our mission of sustainability and community ownership!
Today, Shinga consists of a women’s literacy and vocational training program, pre-schools, a primary school, a clinic, a church, a men’s welding program, a cooperative small scale agricultural program and a childcare program for orphaned children. Bread and Water for Africa® provided support for the program including funds for the pre-school and orphan care buildings, and equipment and supplies for the vocational training programs. After construction, we have provided ongoing support to the hardworking team at Shinga to ensure that each endeavor gets off to a running start!
The women’s vocational training program focuses on sewing, bread salesmanship, hair dressing and brick-making activities. Sewing machines and sewing supplies were purchased with funds from Bread and Water for Africa® and the women made school uniforms for their own children and to sell to others. They are also able to make other types of clothing and craft items to sell to help support their families.
We continue to be amazed and inspired by diligent joint efforts of Margaret, the people in the local community who are participating in the programs, and the volunteers who are supporting this effort.