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 on: March 06 2017 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
By Arthur Chatora on March 3, 2017 / This is Africa

Accomplished Kenyan writer, Ngugi wa Thiong’o delivered a public lecture at Wits University, South Africa on Thursday at the university’s National Institute for Humanities and Social Science. Thiong’o is one of the most distinguished African writers alive.

The seminal Kenyan writer delivered a profound lecture, discussing the relationship between culture, language and colonisation, arguing that during colonial conquest, the systematic obliteration of African languages has had the same effect on the mind of Africans, in the same manner the colonial sword did to the African body.

Thiong’o argued that Africans should continue pushing for their respective governments to include their languages in learning institutions to preserve the social, cultural and linguistic heritage.

A leading figure in postcolonial studies, Thiongo’s works: his fiction and prose is greatly respected and taught all over the world, and the writer has inspired many writers across the world.

Across Africa, Ngugi’s books continue to be an integral part of the literature syllabus. His book Decolonising the Mind, which was published in 1986, is widely considered his most important work, which has immensely contributed to the discourse on post-colonialism.

Years ago, Thiong’o gave up using the English language and has since committed to writing in African indigenous languages, a radical and controversial decision. During the public lecture, Thiong’o argued that language is at the centre of decolonisation, and warned that, “Use English but don’t let English use you”. Thiong’o also argued that having knowledge of English without knowledge of your mother tongue is akin to enslavement.

While Decolonising the Mind could be regarded as Thiong’o magnum opus, Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance (2009) is another masterpiece, an important work, which explores various critical issues, from Africa’s historical, economic, and cultural fragmentation by slavery, colonialism, and globalization.

A review of Something Torn and New notes: “Throughout this tragic history, a constant and irrepressible force was Europhonism: the replacement of native names, languages, and identities with European ones. The result was the dismemberment of African Seeking to remember language in order to revitalize it, Ngugi’s quest is for wholeness. Wide-ranging, erudite, and hopeful, Something Torn and New is a cri de coeur to save Africa’s cultural future”.

In his public lecture at Wits University, Thiong’o further explores one of his foremost concerns, the critical importance of language to culture, and explores how African indigenous languages have continued to be sidelined over the years. Thiong’o noted that, African languages have often been associated with shame and subjugation while English is associated with sophistication and Science.

In Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon argues that “to speak a language is to take on a world, a culture”. The quote resonates with the central ideas of Thiong’o’s public lecture, when he advocates for Africans to make a conscious effort to speak among themselves in their indigenous languages.

In the lecture, Thiong’o reiterated the importance of learning the mother tongue and local cultural histories and ended by saying “if you know your mother tongue and add it with all other languages, that is empowerment”.

listen : http://bit.ly/2mAqjke
source: https://thisisafrica.me/ngugi-wa-thiongo-calls-preservation-inclusion-african-languages-learning-institutions/

 on: February 13 2017 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
Dear Peter

Greetings from Basilwizi Trust.

This is terrible Peter and I wonder which part of that road this is. I drove there just two weeks ago and I noticed a lot of places threatened by rivers, gullies and rock falls. Southern Africa has been receiving very heavy rains of late and even here in Zimbabwe, in Gokwe North, one of the feeder roads to the district centre suffered the same fate.

Kind Regards
Frank Mudimba
Skype: mudimba.frank

 on: February 13 2017 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
Dear Peter and Penny

Greetings from Basilwizi Trust. It is indeed a sad development here in Binga and elsewhere in Zimbabwe. The rain season have brought mixed fortunes and the Siachilaba community is still shell shocked from the lightning bolt that killed 6 people. The new chief's homestead was also struck but fortunately, no one was hurt. I will relay you message of condolences to the chief in Siachilaba.

Kind Regards
Frank Mudimba
Skype: mudimba.frank

On Monday, January 30, 2017, 12:42:12 PM GMT+2, Penny Yon <pennyyon@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Frank, Peter,

How tragic.  Please if you can, convey sympathies to the families of the deceased, from Ish and myself also.


On Sat, Jan 28, 2017 at 7:44 PM, Kuthan / argezim <argezim@silverserver.at> wrote:

    Dear Frank,

    just read the shocking news that lighting strikes killed five pupils in Macheke but also six people in Siachilaba!

    http://zimbabwenewsday.co.uk/2 017/01/28/breaking-news-lighti ng-strike-kills-students- school-assembly/

    "However, the 2016/17 rain season has witnessed an increase in deaths due to lighting strikes. Last week, six people attending a funeral were killed at Siachilaba in Binga when lightning struck a tree they were sheltering under.  Three others sustained severe burns."

    we feel sorry with the community



 on: February 13 2017 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
by Sunday News Online | Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 | 210 views

The Government, through the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Servicing is seized with the digitisation project which is certain to change the face of broadcasting in the country and also impact in a positive way on the arts industry.

The revolution in broadcasting, which is hallmarked at migration from analogue to digital television, is set to open employment opportunities for most Zimbabweans. Digitisation means the conversion of analogue information into digital information. It is a massive project that affects the entire television value chain which includes viewers, media companies, the TV broadcaster and regulator in profound and different ways.

It is the most significant innovation in television since colour television was introduced in the 1950s. Digitisation has the potential to improve both the quantity and quality of what is available on TV and to increase the number of people who will be able to watch it. As digitisation capabilities extend, virtually every aspect of life is captured and stored in some digital form, and societies move closer towards the networked interconnection of everyday objects.

source: http://www.sundaynews.co.zw/editorial-comment-digitisation-unravelling-potential-gold-mine/

While emphasis on such projects in other countries has been on the technical side, what is unique about Zimbabwe is that the ministry has made a deliberate and well calculated move to educate artistes, who are content producers, of the opportunities that come with the innovation. The ministry has been moving around the country, inviting all those involved in the arts industry who include content creators, film industry personnel, aspiring film makers and tertiary institutions to round table discussions, with recent meeting held in the Matabeleland South capital of Gwanda and the Matabeleland North capital of Lupane.

The ministry and Zim Digital officials were recently in Gweru in the Midlands for a similar mission, which means that no one will be left out of the project, unless people decide to spurn the good gesture from the ministry and fold their hands after being given an opportunity to be part of the new era in television. Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe was quoted recently as saying content production was a multi-million dollar business which Zimbabweans, especially the youths, must take advantage of.

“The youths must embrace this digitisation programme. President Mugabe is very worried about the youths. He always wishes well for them each year as they graduate from schools. So this is an opportunity for them to create employment and be their own bosses in content creation for broadcasters,” Dr Mushohwe said, adding that Government would be advocating 75 percent local content.

He said there was a lot of work to be done for the channels that would be operating 24 hours a day. Instead of one nationwide terrestrial channel being used by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), when the digitisation exercise is completed, 12 high definition broadcasting channels would be availed.

Once the project is complete, almost all parts of the country will be able to get transmission, and most importantly, the involvement of local content producers means that Zimbabweans will be able to tell their own stories.

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information Mr George Charamba, is also on record as saying that the digitisation project sits in well with the 75 percent local content policy.

“That element of insisting on 75 percent local content will mean that the viewer will have a diversity of choice but within the circumscription of that which is African. The 75 percent local content policy means massive employment creation, it means massive value, and it means massive cultural statement from Zimbabwe. It means a Zimbabwe that can export, that does not listen but that speaks globally.”

We therefore urge local content producers to take the opportunity with both hands and be part of the new dispensation in television broadcasting. That way, the industry can go and compete with the likes of South Africa and Nigeria, and make a significant contribution into the country’s economy.

South Africa’s creative economy contributed R90,5 billion directly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the 2013/2014 financial year, with the bulk of the money coming from the film and arts sector. The emergence of Bollywood in Nigeria has also had a massive injection into the country’s GDP. In 2013, Robert Orya, managing director, Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), said Nollywood ranked third globally in gross earnings.

He said the revenue the film industry generated in the last three years was between $300m and $800m, so apart from creating employment for many, the digitisation project has the potential to unravel a gold mine for the country.

 on: February 06 2017 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
Posted by Nigel Gambanga (@nigelrtg) / TechZim

Zimbabwe’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres have started teaching all subjects using local languages, including vernacular languages.

The languages listed and recognised as official in Zimbabwe are English, Shona, Ndebele, Sign Language, Ndau, Chewa, Chibarwe, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Shangani, Shona, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa.

Most of these languages are common to specific geographic regions and are adopted as the local language component for learners in those areas. With this latest adoption, this is now being extended to ECD instruction of all

With this latest adoption, this is now being extended to ECD instruction of all learning objectives which include  Languages, Visual and Performing Arts, Physical Education, Mass Displays, Mathematics, Science, Family and Heritage, and ICT.

According to a report in the Sunday Mail, the new approach was adopted at the beginning of 2017. It falls under the new curriculum which has been the motivation of a number of changes in Zimbabwe’s primary and secondary education delivery such as subject limits at Ordinary Level and the adoption of new compulsory subjects like Agriculture and Mass Display.

The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Lazarus Dokora has justified the use of local languages for instruction highlighting how the medium of communication or instruction for infants and ECD is meant to be in the mother language. This is supposed to ensure the pupils are comfortable and that they freely express themselves.

Controversies and challenges with implementation

As has been the case with other aspects of the new curriculum, there have been concerns raised about the implementation of the new model for ECD instruction.

While some observers that include groups like Progressive Teachers’ Association of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) have applauded the noble nature of the new curriculum they have raised concerns about its chaotic implementation.

Issues like the distribution of resources for the new learning models as well as the training of teachers to adapt to the new approach have to be addressed if the model is to work.

Subjects like Mathematics and computers which have all of the locally approved material in English require a wave of translations, some of the content is also hard to express in local languages and the teachers have to be trained in the adoption of such methods.

All this is tied to the mobilisation of resources, something that the cash-strapped Zimbabwean government has had challenges with in the past considering the workarounds around teacher recruitment.

The new model will also have an implication on how these learning outcomes are adopted in later stages of education, something that the Ministry of Education will also have to plan for.

For now, it remains to be seen how the government will solve theses issues as it tries to reposition the Zimbabwean education system.

source: http://www.techzim.co.zw/2017/02/zimbabwes-schools-now-teaching-early-childhood-maths-science-vernacular-languages/

 on: January 09 2017 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
by Achille Mbembe 06 Jan 2017

Although some of Africa’s natural assets are in danger of being depleted, it remains the last territory on Earth that has not yet been entirely subjected to the rule of capital.

This single, gargantuan land mass is the last repository of a vast body of untapped resources — minerals underground, plants and animals, all the forms of energy latent in the Earth’s crust and, by 2035, the region of the globe with the youngest and hopefully the most dynamic population in an ageing world.

Furthermore, the continent is perhaps one of the few places on the planet that could arguably absorb substantial new waves of immigration and where life potential for the species is still high.

Its biosphere is still relatively intact. So is its hydrographic, solar and wind potential. Because of the paucity of heavy infrastructures such as highways and railways, as well as the persistence of colonial boundaries, it is the last major chunk of the globe that has not yet been entirely connected to its many different ­internal parts.

And yet physical, mental and spatial enclaving is being superseded by electronic and digital convergence. The last frontier of capitalism, Africa is going through a silent revolution in digital technologies and computational media. In a world that is more than ever driven by numbers, data, codes and high-speed trading algorithms, the economic consequences of this revolution are hard to predict. But its cultural, political and aesthetic effects are already manifest.

Here, as elsewhere in the world, life behind screens has become a fact of daily existence, including for many urban poor. People are exposed to, and are absorbing, more images than they ever have. They are increasingly surrounded by all kinds of dream machines — cellphones, the web, videos and films. Hundreds of thousands use Twitter and Instagram and millions are on Facebook, exchanging hundreds of thousands of selfies and other messages every day.

The advent of computational media in the continent has not only been a technological event of considerable significance. It has also ushered in a new aesthetic and cultural sensibility many have called Afropolitanism.

In its simplest instantiation, Afropolitanism represents a new form of worldliness. It can be recognised by the extent to which the local is shaped by, and transacted through, global symbolic resources and imaginaries of circulation.

The computer and the cellphone are the key technological vectors of Afropolitanism. They have become portable stores of knowledges and crucial devices that have changed the way the new African speaks, writes, communicates, imagines who he or she is, or even relates to others and to the world at large.

The interaction between humans and screens having intensified, the boundaries of perception have been stretched as people are projected from one temporal regime to another. Today, it is possible to move almost without transition from the Stone Age to the Digital Age, from magical reason to electronic reason. Time now unfolds in multiple versions while life and the world are increasingly experienced as cinema.

Of the various explanations of the sway new media forms and computational technologies nowadays hold on the contemporary African mind and the enchantment they provoke, two in particular stand out.

The first is the existence in many regions of the continent of deep histories and entrenched cultures of curiosity, invention and innovation, long underestimated, neglected or misunderstood. There is no part of the world other than Africa where, constrained by brutal circumstances, people are so constantly forced to innovate both in ways of being, ways of thinking and in ways of making things. Putting together again and repairing what has been broken up — bodies, tools, institutions and symbolic systems — have become the very condition for survival.

Today in major cities throughout this vast continent, it is common for objects of use value to be made from apparently worthless things. Various kinds of materials are disassembled and reassembled or redeployed so as to bring into being new and revised objects. Matter that already existed is folded, remixed and welded and blended in new combinations. Items that would otherwise be considered as rubbish are resurrected.

In their extraordinary liveliness and frugality, these cultures of retrieval, repair and remaking of things are the repositories of tacit knowledges and skills that have not been the object of proper documentation and even less so of archiving.

It remains to be seen whether this apparently inexhaustible capacity for creativity and resilience can be harnessed to propel Africa into a future worth its name.

On the other hand, the continent is a fertile ground for the new digital technologies because the philosophy of those technologies and the metaphysics underpinning them are more or less in tune with key cognitive reservoirs in African historical cultures — the old ways of folding reality, ancient conceptions of the relations between being and matter, the existence of a deep, almost unconscious archive of permanent transformation, mutation, conversion, metamorphosis and circulation.

Just as in today’s late capitalist age, the world of ancient Africans was one in which the future was highly volatile. Extreme or even catastrophic events were common. In such a context, premium was given to the ability to work with all kinds of knowledges and materials. Constantly repurposing physical and mental things was a highly prized cultural disposition.

Moreover, historical African cultures were obsessed with the interrogation concerning the boundaries of matter, of life, of the body and of the self.

As evidenced by their myths, oral literatures and cosmogonies, among the most important human queries were those concerning the world beyond human perceptibility, corporeality, visibility and consciousness.

Objects were not seen as static entities. Rather, they were flexible living beings endowed with original and, at times, occult and magical properties. They were repositories of energy, vitality and virtuality and, as such, they constantly invited transmutation or even transfiguration.

Tools, technical objects and artifacts belonged to the world of interfaces and served as the lynchpin to transgress existing boundaries to access the universe’s infinite horizons. With human beings and other living entities, they entertained a relationship of reciprocal causation. This is what early anthropologists mistook for animism.

Electronic reason and computational media speak almost unmediated to this archaic unconscious and to these societies’ deepest technical memories. If anything, these memories suggest that the African precolonial world prefigured the digital, or was digital before the digital.

Furthermore, in old African cognitive worlds, human beings were never satisfied simply being human beings. They were constantly in search of a supplement to their humanity.

Often, to their humanity they added attributes of animals, properties of plants and various animate and inanimate objects. Personhood was therefore not a matter of ontology. It was always a matter of composition and of assemblage of a multiplicity of vital beings.

To convert one specific object into something else and to capture the power inherent in every single matter and being constituted the ultimate form of power and agency. The world itself was a transactional world. One was always transacting with some other force or some other entity just as one was always trying to capture some of the power invested in those entities in an effort to add theirs to one’s own originary powers.

Modernity rejected such ways of being and confined them to the childhood of Man.

Today, the technological devices that saturate our lives have become extensions of ourselves. In the process, a new relationship between humans and other living or vital things has been instituted. This new relationship is not unlike what African traditions had long prefigured.

Not long ago, it was understood that the human person (whom the West mistook for the white man) was not a thing or an object. Nor was he or she an animal or a machine. Human emancipation was precisely premised on such a distinction.

Today many want to capture for themselves the forces, energies and vitalism of the objects that surround us, most of which we have invented. We think of ourselves as made up of various spare or animate parts. How we assemble them and for what purpose is the question late identity politics raises so unequivocally.

Under neoliberal conditions, this renewed convergence, and at times fusion, between the human being and the objects, artefacts or technologies that supplement or augment us, is at the source of forms of self-stylisation we have not seen before.

This event, which we can equate to a return to animism, is nevertheless not without danger for the idea of emancipation in this age of crypto-fascism.

In this late phase of its development, capitalism is less and less about the creation of social wealth. Partly fuelled by processes of sudden devaluation and expendability, rapid supersession, ceaseless disinvestment, obsolescence and discarding, it increasingly aspires to free itself from any social obligation and to become its own ends and its own means.

In this context, one of the many functions of computational media and digital technologies is not only to extract surplus value through the annexation and commodification of the human attention span. It is also to accelerate the disappearance of transcendence and its reinstitutionalisation in the guise of the commodity.

Formatting as many minds as possible, shaping people’s desires, recrafting their symbolic world, blurring the distinction between reality and fiction and, eventually, colonising their unconscious, have become key operations in the dissemination of micro-fascism in the interstices of the real.

Furthermore, both neoliberal capitalism and new technologies speak to some of the deepest fantasies that the modern human being entertains, beginning with the fantasy of watching oneself, which was first experienced with the invention of the mirror. Before the advent of the mirror as a technology of self-gazing, we could not fully take ourselves as eminent objects of contemplation. We could only see our shadow, or the refraction of our double through the surface of the water or as an effect of light.

Today various auxiliary technologies and platforms including all kinds of nano-cameras have taken the mirror to its ultimate stage with explosive effects.

They have brought the history of the shadow to its knees by making us believe that there can be a world without opacity, a translucent world transparent to itself, without any nocturnal attribute.

We can finally become our own spectacle, our own scene, our own theatre and audience, even our own public. In this age of endless self-curation and exhibition, we can finally draw our own portrait. Intimacy has been replaced by what Jacques Lacan called “extimacy”.

A different kind of human entangled with objects, technologies and other living or animate things is therefore being constituted through and within digital technologies and new media forms. This is not at all the liberal individual who, not so long ago, we believed could be the subject of democracy.

This new order of things has serious implications for our traditional understanding of the political, of freedom and self-government. Since modernity, every project of genuine human emancipation has aimed at preventing the human from being treated as an object and ultimately from being turned into waste.

Now, if under the empire of the digital and the Eros of consumption, the human also begins to desire to be an object, or to have some of the attributes of the object, or to see to it that objects and other animate and inanimate entities are also endowed with the same rights as the humans, what does this signal in terms of the future of the political as such?

Achille Mbembe is a research professor in history and politics at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research. His new book, Politics of Enmity, will be published by Duke University Press later this year.

All material © Mail & Guardian Online. Material may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission.

Achille Mbembe is a research professor in history and politics at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research. His new book, Politics of Enmity, will be published by Duke University Press later this year.

read more / source: http://mg.co.za/article/2017-01-06-00-the-digital-age-erases-the-divide-between-humans-and-objects

 on: December 18 2016 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
Lusaka, 18 December 2016

Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) congratulates the people of Malawi for the enactment of the Access to Information (ATI) law, as this will enable citizens to access information that is held by public entities.

The enactment of the Access to Information Law in Malawi is a step in the right direction and a strong trigger for increased citizens’ participation in promoting accountability in the management of public resources in the country.

Our work in Malawi focuses on creating platforms for informed citizens’ engagement and participation in development processes. This law will enhance our work as it will create an enabling environment for citizens to access information and engage meaningfully in developmental debates and dialogue. PSAf believes that an informed citizenry equals meaningful citizen participation in fostering accountability in development processes.

The ATI Act gives compels those holding public information to make it available to citizens. With this legislation in place, PSAf looks forward to increased citizens’ participation in the country’s governance and in combating corruption, which continues to rear its ugly head in the country.

We are aware that this legislation has been elusive for many years, and even this time around, some political actors attempted – in vain – to block it. The challenge now is for all stakeholders to ensure the full implementation of this law. We call on the responsible authorities to put in place policies and guidelines that will facilitate the effective implementation of this law. It is our hope as PSAf that the legislature, executive and judiciary will each play their part to ensure that the provisions of this law are adhered to. We look forward to the establishment of the Independent Information Commission that is provided for in the new law.

We urge citizens to tap into the opportunities availed by this law to seek and access vital and life-saving information that is held by public entities.

It is also our hope that this law will contribute to strengthened investigative journalism in the country, as journalists will now have improved access to information held by public entities.

On our part, we will continue to work with the media and other stakeholders to ensure that information is effectively used to drive development.

Issued by:  Lilian Kiefer,  Executive Director, Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf)

 on: October 27 2016 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
by BBC Media Action Jack McQuibban,  September 1, 2016

Tikambe! (Let’s Talk!) is a joint BBC Media Action and Restless Development project in Zambia that uses an integrated communication approach to get young people openly talking about sex, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and how to prevent HIV and AIDS. Launched in 2014, the project combines a weekly radio show, a television talk show, policy engagement events, outreach activities, and peer-led education and training in life skills. The programme seeks to help young people look after their sexual health and improve their knowledge of their reproductive rights, and also empower youth to claim their rights to access youth friendly sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and be able to effectively interrogate and engage local and national authorities on key sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues.

read more: http://www.comminit.com/hiv-aids/content/tikambe-lets-talk-project?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=drumbeat722&utm_content=tikambe-lets-talk-project

 on: April 22 2016 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
By Friday Phiri

PEMBA, Southern Zambia, Apr 22 2016 (IPS) - In scorching heat, Ellen Kacha, inspects her almost failed maize crop, which now looks promising after a rare occurrence this season — normal rainfall for at least two weeks.

Droughts have been a common feature in recent years. This El Nino-induced phenomenon that is sweeping across southern Africa this year seems to have worsened smallholders’ problems. Ellen’s smallholding is no exception.

“The drought spell this year is worse as compared to the last three seasons. Regardless of conservation technologies that I have adopted, I have not been spared”, says the 56 year farmer of Pemba district. Ellen has been practicing conservation agriculture since 2003.

Ellen says she learnt resilient agricultural technologies the hard way, “providing for children as a single mother for 23 years. At that time, my soils had become completely useless due to erosion, so I continued seeking for better methods to sustain my family and my introduction to conservation farming was timely”, she explains.

According to available statistics, 78 per cent of women in Zambia engage in agriculture, contributing a significant percentage to the country’s agricultural output. This output supports 70 per cent of the country’s 13 million plus population. .

However, women remain marginalised in terms of access to credit and most importantly, land. While the former is blamed on financial exclusion, the latter is a product of patriarchal customary land ownership where women are largely excluded from owning land except through their husbands.

Customary land is held and used in accordance with customs and traditions of local communities, without any documentation, further complicating matters for women to obtain credit and other required support for smallholder agricultural development.

“What I have seen in the region is that women are usually at the centre of coping with disasters but are neglected in long-term planning for resilient projects. Poor access to land and other incentives is a serious stumbling block to their progress. This should change for women know better on how to cope”, says Juliane Ineichen, deputy regional director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the financiers of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) rural resilience initiative — R4 — being implemented in Zambia’s southern province.

R4 is targeting the challenge of credit for smallholders, using an integrated approach to risk management, covering credit, insurance and savings.

Riding on the existing Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations-led conservation agriculture scaling-up platform, this initiative is also improving early warning systems through automated weather stations and index insurance, which according to WFP Zambia, would almost ‘complete the climate-smart agriculture technology package’.

Although not part of the R4 project, Ellen Kacha is a living example of what women empowerment can achieve. “I have no regrets at all. As you can see, I have built two iron roofed houses through conservation. I have educated my children up to university level and just recently bought a 5,000 litres water tank and diesel pump machine for irrigation”, she elaborated.

Highlighting the importance of conservation farming (climate smart agriculture) in drought situations, Ellen harvested 778 fifty kg bags of maize last farming season, when most farmers suffered crop failure due to erratic rainfall.

Selling 650 of it, Ellen earned herself over 48,000 Zambian Kwacha (US $4,800) from which she bought irrigation equipment.

A few kilometers away from Ellen’s farmstead, is Malungo Maina Chabota, 43, also bursting with hope. Through R4 project support, Chabota has learnt crop diversification and is expecting a bumper harvest of cowpeas, in a season characterised by drought. With her cowpeas already guaranteed a market under WFP’s school feeding programme, she has no worries of her children’s school fees.

”This programme is the best thing to have happened to us, especially credit. We don’t have to wait for government inputs anymore, we have the choice to get what we want through the credit scheme under the project”, boasts Chabota, adding that until now, she never thought crop fields could also be insured against erratic rainfall.

With such success stories, conservation agriculture has been gaining momentum in the smallholder farming community who see the practice as guaranteed insurance against droughts.

However, the El Nino-induced, unusually long drought this season has reminded conservation farming practitioners that there is still more to be done to complete the cycle of climate smart agriculture.

“Farmers have been coping with three weeks to four weeks dry spells, but six weeks without rain is too much for the crops to survive”, observes Hosea Njovu, an extension officer under the conservation farming unit, an autonomous non-governmental entity promoting conservation agriculture for improved yields.

Njovu says conservation farming is working wonders, but stresses the need to scale up irrigation, a view shared by Ellen, who is only irrigating one hectare in close proximity to the equipment because connecting distant fields comes at an extra cost, which she cannot afford for now.

“Just like the farmer input support subsidy programme, we implore government to up-scale irrigation scheme loans for us. We know there are some schemes already but I think they are not meeting the demand and pockets of smallholders, especially women”, she told IPS.

And Maxus Ng’onga, deputy minister of agriculture agrees and says “government is implementing the World Bank supported irrigation support project targeting small to medium farmers with suitable irrigation technology.”

Ng’onga further adds that the project is paying special attention to gender to avoid bias towards men as the case tends to be.

The colossal sums of money involved to support this kind of technology has been a subject of debate at various climate change conferences including the 2015 COP 21 where world leaders reached a landmark agreement after years of procrastination.

The need to up-scale climate smart agriculture has long been recognised at the highest level of African leadership as highlighted by African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) agency’s strategic focus.

source: http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/04/unsung-heroes-of-rural-resilience/

 on: April 20 2016 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
Local mobile operator Econet Wireless and global professional accounting body ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) are set to unveil a partnership today that will introduce accounting students to the use of EcoSchool, the operator’s digital education platform for learning.

Following a pilot in early 2014 EcoSchool was launched later in the same year as a tool for online resources used by tertiary level students. It offers access to zero-rated content and resources for a gamut of disciplines. It has expanded its offering beyond tertairy education with new service lines like the EcoSchool Academy.

Though extensive details on the Econet -ACCA partnership are yet to be shared, the information that has been provided so far indicates that the two entities will be distributing content for a service known as ACCA-X.

This is an online learning programme for ACCA students and anyone else interested in picking up skills in business and accounting. It was launched last year as a collaborative effort between ACCA, massive open online courses (MOOCs) platform edX, as well as Epigeum, a online professional courses platform.

ACCA-X courses are available for free with a premium option available for syudents who want to register for ACCA certifications.

For both ACCA and Econet this partnership is likely focused on expanding their respective footprints. Econet will have a chance to extend the use of its platform to a subset of professionals keen on the latest learning material while ACCA will benefit from Econet’s reach in the digital learning space.

source: http://www.techzim.co.zw/2016/04/econets-ecoschool-launch-online-learning-partnership-acca/#.VxdJ9SakV0w

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