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Katete District Women’s Association - Livelihoods Depend on Water

Katete District Women’s Association focuses on women empowerment and supporting the restoration of areas around rivers.

It supports self-help groups and village saving schemes. It also works with lead farmers who spread the message of sustainable agriculture. The organisation has empowered many women, including Mrs Jesse Banda who supports 50 women farmers in 7 villages, educating them on best farming practices.
Jesse Banda lives in Chipapika community, close to Valamkoko River.  She is a mother of 4 children. She has been living in the area since 1984 when she got married to her husband. In 2000, she started a small savings group with her friends. In 2010 the savings group received support from the Katete District Women’s Association, as a pilot. They were taught how to manage businesses and grow food for their families. Five years later, she was able to borrow money from the savings group to build a house. She also grew cotton and used the income to purchase and rear chickens, cattle, goats and sheep. Mrs Banda was also able to educate her children. However, the effects of climate change now threaten her and her family’s livelihoods.
We used to have water in rivers and streams, and now not anymore. Things started to change about 23 years ago. It got worse, 5 years ago, when we had a bad drought that we never recovered from. The river has never been the same since. Instead of having water all year round, like it was in the past, now we only have water for half the year”, said Jesse Banda
Unsustainable agriculture practices such as the cutting down of trees and slash and burn agriculture has affected water sources. Instead of a few meters, her cattle now travel approximately 10km to access drinking water. She draws water from the borehole for her chickens and has opted to plant vegetables in a riverbed in order to access water for them.

To protect water systems, and with support from WWF and the Zambian Governance Foundation, Katete District Women's Association implemented a Community Action for Restoration of Nature project, which focused on the protection of vegetation along rivers in Katete district through working with a community radio and traditional leaders. Katete District Women’s Association also worked with local drama and security group under the traditional leadership known as “Gule Wamukule” who demarcated  and protect 10 hectars  of the forest along the river bank. 

This project has been successful, mostly because the community respect the local security group, so people do not enter the protected part of the forest, and the trees along the river banks are being restored. In addition, community members have moved their fields 20 meters away from the banks of the river, and have planted trees along the river banks instead. Some of these trees are fruit trees, that the community will be selling in order to earn an extra income. 

By Nchimunya K Banda/WWF

Mrs Jesse Banda, supported by Katete District Women's Association, watering her vegetable garden.