Bioethics News

‘We Don’t Know What They Do Behind the Wall’: Zambian Women Miss Out On Help

June 27, 2017

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On the highway heading towards Chongwe, 15km south-east of Lusaka, the red Chinese lettering, high flagpoles and gleaming modern architecture of the ZambiaChinese Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre (ZATDC) stand out amid the vast fields of maize.

It is one of 25 such centres built across the continent as part of a grand plan to bring agricultural training to local people, helping them produce better crops with higher yields, so that food security is improved for everyone.

That should be great news for small-scale farmers around here, who – as in many African countries – are mostly women. Makulate Ngoma, 47, sole provider for her seven grandchildren, has a little plot of land. “I became a farmer because I didn’t want to buy maize meal, that’s why I grow crops. But you can’t survive on farming. It’s only enough for day to day.”

Every day, Ngoma travels to Chongwe town, a collection of lean-to shacks and dilapidated stores strung along the road. Stalls of rickety tables hold small pyramids of onions, tomatoes, bananas, and peanuts, watched by women who have planted, grew, weeded and watered each plant.

Despite the ZATDC being so close, Ngoma was unaware of its existence. None of the other stallholders had heard of it either. “We’d like to get training, but we haven’t seen the Chinese, and government hasn’t told us anything. The government doesn’t support us in loans or help us be better farmers,” said Ngoma. The other women nodded in agreement.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.