Reflections from the Copperbelt: Changing Lives, One at a Time

Reflections from the Copperbelt: Changing Lives, One at a Time

With my visit to our Copperbelt Rural Livelihoods Enhancement and Support Project (CRLES) behind, and the daily routine of life back in full swing, I ponder the life-altering experiences over the last few days in Zambia. The facts still resonate in my ears: half the population attends primary school, nearly three-quarters of the population do not own latrines, just more than half do not have enough food to last more than eight or nine months of the year and 61 percent live below the low income/subsistence bracket (<$90/month).

I grapple with the challenges presented and ask if the cycle can be broken.

As I visited the many proud families receiving either goats or draft cattle, I was not only inspired but assured that YES, we can break the cycle. It will take time, and we will be confronted with new challenges along the way. But their resilience, desire and hope for change will drive these people above the poverty line.

Our integrated model and partnership with Heifer International, Heifer Zambia, Village Water Zambia, National Food and Nutrition Commission of Zambia and Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is unique in that it addresses the complexity of many issues in the districts of Kalulushi, Luanshya, Mpongwe and Masaiti. In the six short months since the official launch of the project, I witnessed how the implementation of simple technologies makes a world of difference.

Despite the challenges, change is happening. As Dan West, founder of Heifer International, observed during his time as a relief worker in the Spanish War, it is better to give “not a cup, but a cow.”

During the two official hand-over ceremonies in Mponge and Kuanga, it was evident that the recipients to will be proud to pass on their livestock, in addition to the knowledge/training to improve household security, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation practices. Their testimonies reflecting positive change act as a seed of hope for future pass-on recipients