Agriculture is the backbone of the Zambian economy, employing nearly half of its workforce, and this sector has been particularly hard hit by the effects of climate change. For this reason Caritas Monze, KiloWatts for Humanity’s local partner in Zambia is dedicated to advising local communities about ways electricity from solar kiosks can help diversify their economy away from relying solely on agriculture. And no community has embraced this opportunity more fully than the women of Cheeba.
“The women of Cheeba are the most proactive group that I have worked with so far,” says Caritas Habeenzu, project manager with Caritas Monze. “They have made it a top priority to develop new sources of income from business such as chicken incubators, and importantly have their business run for many years so that, even when they are gone, their children will be able to take it on. They are very organized and dedicated to proving they are able to do well – even better than the men.”
The one aspect that stands out when you meet the women of Cheeba is their culture of community. Says Caritas, “They want the world to know that working together gets things done, and this can be done once personal differences are set aside. This enhanced spirit of cooperation has really united the community. It is very nice to see.”
Caritas has clearly been inspired by her experience among the women of Cheeba. “In many cases, the women are the most vulnerable in our communities, and it is really heartwarming to see the women of Cheeba taking full charge and control of their lives by coming together and generating income to support themselves and their families. Their outlook on life has really changed a lot, even how they now dress. They are now full-blown entrepreneurs, always thinking, ‘How are we going to generate income, what are we going to do now, what are we going to do next.’ I can only hope for even better things for them in the future.”