In the autumn of 2018 I provided support for the ADRA offices in Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda. Along with Frank Teeuwen, the Director of ADRA’s United Nations Liaison Office, I visited as many UN and other governmental donors as time allowed. Many of these agencies are hard to reach by local offices, but our presence helped them understand the global reach of ADRA’s work. Together with the local country directors, we were able to establish relationships and provide vital networking opportunities.
Our visit showed that Zambia faced enormous challenges, including extensive drought due to climate change and an influx of refugees. Yet, with the growing humanitarian challenges, ADRA Zambia had only a handful of small projects. While in Zambia, we met with the representatives of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and UNICEF (the UN agency responsible for children), and discussed the difficult situation with the increasing numbers of Congolese refugees in the country. The Meheba community in Kalumbila District in the North-Western Province has been home to refugees’ camps and settlements since the 1960s. Over the years the number of refugees among local host communities has increased to over 23,000, and they face food insecurity and dire poverty due to population growth, unemployment, the effects of climate change, diminishing natural resources and general under-development of the area.
During my visit, I committed ADRA-UK to help ADRA Zambia to set up a sub-office at the Meheba refugee camp to coordinate the work of ADRA in this camp. We provided £10,000 to set up the sub-office and have one staff member attending coordination meetings and positioning ADRA to work with UNHCR and UNICEF in the camp for one year. (Through a JustGiving campaign you helped us raise £3,182.28 to help cover this cost.) Then, as the work in Meheba progressed, in 2019 we committed £75,000 of our 2019 ADRA Appeal/Ingathering to a food security project in the Meheba area: the ‘Food Security through Agro-based and Resilience Market Solutions for Smallholder Farmers’ (FARMS) project, which would contribute to food security and peaceful co-existence of settled refugees and host communities.
The World Food Programme (which was recently awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize) noticed the work and experience demonstrated by ADRA Zambia in Meheba. As a result of this, on 2 October 2020, two years after my visit, Kennedy Habasimbi, ADRA Country Director for Zambia, signed a two-year contract with the World Food Programme worth $438,000 per year to work in the drought-affected districts of Gwembe, Alomo, Monze, Sloma and Shangombo. The new project will help 104,540 smallholder farmers to recover from the negative impact of the drought, as well as helping to prepare for the next cropping season. The project will also link farmers to schools and alternative reliable markets for pulses and vegetables, and will help to promote climate-smart agriculture, crop diversification and post-harvest management.
From small beginnings (knocking on doors) and small financial commitments (supported by our donors in the UK), ADRA Zambia has grown, working hard to create lasting change for thousands of people. The English proverb states, ‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.’ Your contributions through knocking on doors, monthly direct debits, fund-raising initiatives and one-off donations all make a difference to people in desperate need.