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  • Writer's pictureKristin P

Chalokwa Assessment Trip Report

September 16, 2015

After a long 11 hours on the road yesterday (departing Chingola at 6 am and arriving in Siavonga at 5 pm), Dr. Louie, Emily, Matthieu and Natalie enjoyed the sunset over lake Kariba and a late, seafood inspired dinner with Karim and Antoine. Karim is a site manager for Alstom in Zambia and works with the turbine section of Zesco, a local utility company. He has been living here in Siavonga for one year with his family. Antoine also works for Alstom but in the renewable branch. He has flown to Zambia from France and works specifically with the “We Share the Power” program at his company. All in all, the team had safely arrived to their destination and bonded over the sporadic baboons, multiple police check-points and ABC games that marked the start of their adventure.


September 17, 2015

This morning, Antoine and the kWhers met for an early breakfast. Karim, Reynald and Henny met with us shortly after. Reynold is a Zambian native, as his parents moved to the area from England before he was born. Reynold owns a boat business in Siavonga. The chief, Longo Chipepo, gave him a piece of land in the village, Chalokwa. Right by the river, Reynold plans on working to produce an organic perma-culture garden. Reynald has already put in a water pump and water tank and wants to begin leasing small fields to families; he wants to start a small co-operative that promotes organic agricultural education, composting information and access to seeds. Henny, on the other hand, is a Zimbabwe native. Like Karim, Henny works for Alstom at the power station in Siavonga. Together, we took a 10-minute drive to the office of the district counselor (DC).

[From Left to Right: Antoine, Henny, Zarim, Mr. Kanyama, Dr. Louie, Matthieu, Emily, Natalie]

At the meeting, we began by introducing ourselves to the DC, Mr. Kanyama. After the introductions, Dr. Louie presented the project and its purpose. Mr. Kanyama ultimately gave the support and protection of the district government. He also commented on the kWh shirts and how much he liked them (so we should get one his way, ASAP).

[From Left to Right: Dr. Louie speaking with Alexander Siagwali, the chief-dome secretary of the administrative council]

[From Left to Right: Emily, Henny, Zarim, Maloza, Dr. Louie, Matthieu, Natalie, Antoine]

After visiting the power station, it was finally time to meet with the authorities of the village Chalokwa. We prepared a gift basket for the chief, Timothy Siabula, to present to him upon arrival. In this gift basket there was: millet for maize makings, cooking oil, sugar and kapenta (small, dried sardines). The chief was feeling ill so we met his son, Hedley (also known as the prince), and his administrative council. After receiving their blessing to survey the area and the local people, we toured around on foot and got a feel for the culture, economy and surroundings of the land. We were lucky enough to walk along the Zambezi river (east of the local school). On the banks of the muddy water, we greeted children playing with “kam wamba” (how are you), eyed some hippos, and crossed the outskirts of local gardens.

Most people in the village speak Tonga, but some know English as well. The economy is largely dependent on fishing and farming. They farm okra, rape, maize and some other vegetables like potatoes and onions. They also fish brim in the river using canoes, or“bwaatos”, carved from a wood called “musanta”. The main income of villagers comes from selling these fish in cities, if the opportunity arises, or from selling goats and vegetables to any people that travel to the village for livestock and produce. The village has around 100-150 families (about 2000 people). We were all surprised to learn that many children walk up to 30 kilometers a day just to go to school – how amazing is that? To put it simply, we learned so many things and were grateful to have experienced the genuine kindness and welcoming attitude that defined Chalokwa. We can’t wait to visit again tomorrow and see what more surprises await us!

[Pictured: Matthieu sitting in the back of Zarim’s truck]


September 18, 2015

This morning we woke up early and scrambled into Zarim’s large truck to make our way to Chalokwa for a final assessment. The focus of today’s trip was to survey individuals in the village and to try to grasp the lifestyle/needs of the families that reside there. We ultimately wanted to gain valuable information about a spectrum of families; information that will help us decide the amount of electricity desired, the purposes of this electricity and a feasible price for monthly PBK rentals.

Emily and Natalie conducted surveys with a group of 10 heads of households in the morning (each taking one aside at a time with a translator). In the afternoon, we split into groups and did more in-depth surveys with families by visiting their homes. Emily and Antoine went with Raynald to the south-east, Dr. Louie and Zarim stromed through east (along the river), and Natalie and Matthieu observed the homes of the west. After re-grouping two hours later, we found ourselves dirty, dehydrated but mostly in disbelief with our detailed responses! We couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel in Siavonga to compile our results and to discuss the key points of the survey’s findings.

[A headman sits with Natalie and her translator, Mr. Bato, a village school teacher]

[Emily sits with a village farmer and her translator]

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