Africa AHEAD joins Action Against Hunger (formally ACF) in Zimbabwe with an Emergency programme to assist the most vulnerable with food in a year when many Zimbabweans are once again suffering from not only run away inflation, but now also the threat of the covid 19 pandemic.
Food Agriculture and Nutrition Clubs (FAN)
Once the CHC has completed Stage 1. Training in Health promotion, Water and Sanitation and if funds permit, Africa AHEAD moves onto Stage 2 of the AHEAD Approach: Food Agriculture and Nutrition.
CHC members who have received their certificate for completing all 20 health promotion session, qualify to join a ‘FAN Club’ (Food Agriculture and Nutrition) as part of a community nutrition garden. The programme provides much needed fencing to start the garden off, to protect vegetables being eaten by livestock. Each member is each allocated around 5 vegetable beds for their own family, which they must tend themselves. They are given seeds and start up equipment.
Self sufficient and Resilient one year after Cyclone ravaged their land
Recently (2020) a FAN club in Chipinge which had been assisted by Africa AHEAD to start a CHC and then a FAN club after Cyclone Idai had destroyed their livelihood recorded this home video of their nutrition garden and sent it to us to share with the general public. They present a role play to explain how they made their garden so sucesssful using organic growing methods. This is taken four months after the AA staff have left and demonstrates how they havetaken ownership of this project.
A detailed Evaluation was done by our Partner, Mercy Corps, of one of the first FAN Programmes in Chipinge, Buhera and Chiredzi in 2010.
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Standard Activities undertaken by Food Agriculture and Nutrition Clubs
A group of around 50-100 members are give a large communal plot (usually 1-2 hectares) by the village head near a communal water point.The members clear the plot and prepare the ground. Each CHC member is allocated 5 beds to grow vegetables.
Care for the Vulnerable:
A communal Nutrition garden is considered a resource for the whole community, revamping a positive cultural practice that was common in the old days – the chief’s plot whereby the able bodied contributed their efforts to supply extra vegetables for the vulnerable people of the community i.e widows / orphan headed households or elderly, disabled or infirm.
Traditional euphorbia hedging is grown.
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.
Replanting Indigenous Trees:
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. This can be a means of earning carbon offsetting funds from the developed nations.
We encourage our CHC members to keep their own wild beees as best practice in farming. Not only can they earn from sale of honey but ‘bees need trees’ to get pollen. Thus is encourages people to plant more 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.
Every health club member is expected to grow a range of vegetables and to 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 fertility 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.
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. It enables women to support more of their children to attend school, so a unforseen consequence maybe more girl children at school.
Balanced Diet and Weaning:
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.
Preservation of Food:
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.