CHC members who have received their certificate for finishing stage 1 are able to join a ‘FAN Club’ (Food Agriculture and Nutrition). The group of around 50-100 CHC members who have ‘graduated’ are give a large communal plot by the village head near a communal water point.
The FAN members clear the plot and prepare the ground. Each FAN member is allocated 5 beds to grow vegetables. Traditional euphorbia hedging is grown. Additional cultivation is done to provide food security for vulnerable households i.e widows / orphan headed households or elderly, disabled or infirm. This is revamping a positive cultural practice that was common in the old days.
One of our most successful programs has been the cultivation of medicinal herbs for curing common conditions. Where the local Health Service has few medicines this enable people to treat themselves with their own herbal remedies. Africa AHEAD has developed Training material and can offer training on 30 basic herbs with practice on preparation of remedies and their individual uses. This is particularly useful for HIV/AIDS programmes where it is a practical way to relieve the stress of untreated symptoms.
Working with the government agricultural extension officers, club members collect local indigenous trees and make seed nurseries to ensure future replanting of trees to prevent deforestation. Wood lots of gum trees can be planted if suitable. Every member must have more or more types of fruit trees.
Bee Keeping is often linked to a green programme as it makes economic sense to plant trees to encourage more wild bees, which also help to stimulate crop pollination. Other spin off home industries from honey production are manufacture of bee hives, smokers and bee protective gear.
Sale of surplice produce enables women to provide for their families as well as ensure that they have a balanced diet. This also enables circulation of currency within the village.
Practical training focuses on how to provide a balanced diet as well as safe weaning practice. Women bring all the types of food they have a home and sort them into the food groups. Then a general discussion on recipes and how to diversify the food types so that there is good family nutrition.
Every health club member is expected to grow a range of vegetable and plant fruit trees to ensure production of food throughout the year so they can maintain a balanced diet. They are trained in organic growing methods, such as inter-cropping to maintain the nitrogen in the soil, and trenching with compost to ensure high productivity.
Women in FAN clubs in Zimbabwe have kept their families going in times of extreme economic collapse due to food growing within the CHC. One women reported she had even managed to building onto her home from the sale of tomatoes in a time of rampant inflation.
We also train women to dry fruit and vegetables so that their families have a balanced diet all the year round from their own produce. We also have encouraged hygienic drying of fish and meat for protein with appropriate technologies which can be easily made at village level.