Knowledge exchange and skills development is an important part of the relationship the African Bush Camps Foundation has with the Mambanje Community, situated on the border of the famous Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Our Projects Coordinator, Mhlalisi Ncube, recently chaperoned selected members of the Mamabanje community to join in a learning exchange, led by the Soft Foot Alliance Trust, to the impressive Chikukwa Project: A permaculture success story in Zimbabwe. Here is what Mhlalisi had so say about the experience.
What was the trip all about, where did you go?
We spent 2 days at Chikukwa in Chimanimani (Chikukwa Ecological Land Use Community Trust), 1 day at PORET training center (Participatory Organic Research Extension and Training in Chaseyama, Manicaland, Zimbabwe), and 2 days at Muonde Trust in Zvishavane. We were a total of 13 people who included 4 people from Mambanje, 4 people from Mabale, 1 person from Dopota, 1 person from Sianyanga village. Also, there was myself, Laurie Simpson of the Soft Foot Alliance Trust and Precious Phiri who was our facilitator and translator for the trip. We traveled by road using 2 vehicles, one from African Bush Camps Foundation and 1 from The Soft Foot Alliance covering an approximately 2,500km to get to the 3 different learning and training areas and back to Hwange!
Learnings covered included water harvesting, live and dry wall fencing, land regeneration through planned grazing and permaculture farming
The four community members from Mambanje were selected through a community meeting led by village heads. The representatives who would best represent Mambanje and also learn fast and be able to share the information were selected. The Soft Foot Alliance selected participants through an application form with questions to find out about the values of the people and how they would give back to their community.
Why did ABCF send these community members along? What benefit is aimed to result for the individuals and the community?
The learning exchanges will be of use to Mambanje community members who often lack exposure to new innovative ideas. Community members are expected to learn and analyze new ideas with the goal to adopt best practices. As part of the African Bush Camps Foundation goal to promote holistic land management, we invited the community to participate in the learning exchange. Learnings covered included water harvesting, live and dry wall fencing, land regeneration through planned grazing and permaculture farming. We witnessed various success stories by visiting local farmers homesteads who were successfully implementing the various ideas. These were local people that the participants could relate with and learn from through seeing the ideas in action. Amongst the highlights of the trip was the visit to the late Zephaniah Phiri Maseko’s home on the – he was a world renowned water harvester and farmer. We got to visit his farm in Zvishavane where we went through (led by his son and widow who are now running the farm) the system of water harvesting he developed in his farm in addition to the farming techniques they are utilizing, growing trees, intercropping etc
Are there any plans to do more or follow up training from this trip?
As part of the next steps for the community members is to give feedback to their communities; sharing their learnings and to begin implementing some of the ideas. The group of 4 from Mambanje are starting with creating a compost, water harvesting contours, and permaculture gardens in their respective homes and school garden. The training has proved to be very useful to the participants who have witnessed communities in harsher areas than where they come from surviving through permaculture influenced farming. One of the biggest challenges at Mambanje is food security and African Bush Camps Foundation believes that through interventions such as these, the community can learn to be self-reliant utilizing methods that are sustainable and friendly to our whole ecosystem.