By JOHN MUBAMBE
Kansanshi Mining Plc, a subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals, has initiated a new food security programme which the women folk in Solwezi have embraced with joy as it is going to provide diverse and sustainable diets.
As part of the exhibition of its corporate social responsibility, Kansanshi’s investment in vegetable growing has been tailored to meet the economic needs of the women in the Kabwela and Muzabula communities of Solwezi.
The project has been kick started with emphasis on the creation of sustainable diets for families in the two communities, where women have valued agriculture, food systems, diets and nutrition.
This strategy aimed at improving food and nutrition security, includes far-reaching measures, chief among which is the provision of an irrigation system, fertilizers, and vegetable seeds, all enveloped in providing either food security or adequate nutrition for all.
The programme tackles issues to do with the eradication of hunger, malnutrition and chronic diseases born from the lack of availability and accessibility of diverse foods for healthy and sustainable diets.
According to the manager public relations at Kansanshi Mine, Godfrey Msiska, during the first harvest in Kabwela recently, his company found it necessary to initiate the project in line with its philosophy of empowering members of the community where it operates.
“It all starts with our philosophy, whose ethos is that wherever we set up our mining operations, we leave communities around the mine better than we found them, in all aspects of their lives. This is the only way we can ensure long-term sustainability and the well-being of future generations,” said Msiska.
He described the gesture by his company as a holistic approach meant to leave community members in a much better state in terms of sustainability, health and education improvement.
Msiska explained that the methodology used by the giant copper producer gives a picture frame of a legacy to be remembered in the future.
“It is a legacy issue. The surrounding communities will be able to remember that there was a mine which improved their lives with a multi-faceted approach to development” he said.
He noted that the methodology applied by Kansanshi to drive its philosophy linked to community projects does not allow for handouts, but will provide the initial push in monetary terms and then let the communities take ownership of the projects.
Ling’iwe Sibanda, Kansanshi’s community nutrition coordinator, disclosed that the objective of the project was to supplement and improve the diet diversity at house level to avoid seasonal hunger affecting many families.
Ling’iwe said the major focus of her company was to ensure that families have access to a balanced and sustainable diet every single day of the year.
She said that the programme started with 120 women in 2019 and that this resulted in a total of 345 gardens from 12 communities around the mine.
Ling’iwe indicated that Kansanshi Mine’s preoccupation at present is to encourage women from Kabwela and Muzabula to improve their sources of income and eventually break their poverty cycle.
“We spent K3,000 on the food security programme at each of the two communal gardens at Kabwela and Muzabula and this amount, small as it may seem, has gone a long way in improving food production at household level,” she said.
She was happy to see the women being weaned off the programme so they could stand on their own and intensify the crusade against hunger and malnutrition.
And Ebby Lubinda, the chairperson of the Kabwela vegetable growers, thanked Kansanshi Mining Plc for designing a sustainable programme meant to better the community’s diets.
She said the project had a lot of benefits for her members and their families, because it would protect their children from being victims of stunted growth and other ailments caused by food deficiency.
Lubinda noted that the support of women by Kansanshi Mine would encourage them to sell the excess vegetables as a source of income meant to sustain their living.
She encouraged other women in other communities of Solwezi to grow vegetables at individual and communal levels to supplement their spouses’ incomes and gain other opportunities for improved livelihoods.
At the same function, Tapedza Njovu, a nutrition officer from the district office of the Ministry of Health in Solwezi gave a summary explanation of the nutritional value and safety of vegetables.