YWCA Mongu working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture through the District Agriculture Officers, Extension Officers and relevant CSOs will embark on introducing an innovation challenge on “Storing Water for Food” to assist young mothers in rural communities engage in vegetable gardening in the Western Province. Canals in the Western Province are the biggest water reservoirs in Zambia that support food production. When the canals are in the state of permanent flooding, water is not preserved in traditional dams and lakes for agriculture thus causing food insecurity. YWCA Mongu will embark on helping committed groups of young mothers to preserve water from flooded canals on to small traditional water reservoirs such as dams for food production mainly vegetable gardening. Thereafter the innovation will be accompanied by the installation of technological facilities and tanks that will focus on the storage of water and use of water efficiently to allow availability of water throughout the year to enhance water food production (WFF). Five (5) groups, each comprised of ten (10) active young mothers totaling to fifty (50), from rural communities will be mobilized and will be provided with modern skills on vegetable gardening, entrepreneurship and marketing skills, simple technologies on preservation of water for food production and irrigation systems as well as farming inputs and implements. In addition, each group of selected young mothers will receive two cattle. The cattle will be used to improve ploughing and for transportation of vegetables to nearby markets. The groups may also hire the cattle to other small scale farmers within their communities on request to raise extra income or as part of IGAs.
These skills they will receive knowledge on village banking community-based saving groups such as Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC). A SILC is a selected group of people, who pool their money in to fund, from which members can borrow. The money is paid back with interest, causing the fund to grow. SILC is a holistic programming approach of integral human development that provides strategy to increase low household income by providing people, primarily women, with income generating opportunity and protection of assets through access to self-managed savings-led financial servings. It provides savings-led financial services to communities that have no access to formal financial services or where access to formal financial services is limited due to high transaction costs and other entry barriers. Therefore, in this proposed innovative challenge YWCA will engage selected groups of committed young mothers in SILC for better capital generation and management which translate in to greater investment in their children as well as enhancement food security in their households. In order to enhance on group savings among the targeted beneficiaries (young mothers), YWCA Mongu will provide five (5) SILC groups with seed funding of ZMK 1,500.00 each as total initial capital. The total amount proposed for seed funding for the five (5) targeted SILC groups is ZMK 7,500.00. These funds in turn will keep growing as group members from each SILC group will be borrowing and paying back with small interest of 5%. Eventually the initiative will continue to strengthen food security at the targeted households as well as enhance sustainability of the proposed innovation challenge. Therefore, throughout the process YWCA Mongu will continue to monitor and give technical advice to SILC group members with focus to support those borrowing to start up small businesses such as selling of groceries, airtime, fish, local chicken, mealie meal, rice etc. where they can invest borrowed funds and pay back with interest to their respective SILC groups without any challenges. The innovation challenge will be completed within a period of 6 months starting from September 2017 to February 2018.
The ultimate result of the initiative will enable young mothers to meet their economic needs, have skills and knowledge for better capital generation and management which translate in to greater investment in their children therefore leading to (i) improved food security at household level (ii) improved nutrition (iii) increased access to income as result of SILC activities (iv) reduced cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) among young mothers (v) young mothers will be able to own and have control of their own property or resources such as land, shelter etc. (vi) young mothers will be able to make informed decisions that will benefit their children and communities and be able to actively engage in community developmental activities in their respective areas (vii) improved welfare of young mothers and their children.