Women farmers group together to combat impact of local mine

Sabina Ngander, 52, has suffered from the impact of the mining industry on her community and has set up Natwisonge Women Group so that women can tackle the problems together.

Zambia has been hit hard by the global economic crisis. Many major mining companies threatened to leave the country, as commodity prices decreased. There was a dramatic rise in unemployment as hundreds of miners were layed off.

Sabina is one of many women in Kankoya township, in Zambia’s Copperbelt province, whose husband has lost his job, making survival extremely tough.

However, her response has not been defeatist but proactive. “I started our group in 2008 because me and some other women wanted to change our situation here in Kankoya township. Our husbands don’t have work so we need to combine forces to survive.

We need to combine forces to survive.

The women had been trying to farm crops such as cassava and tomatoes, but lacked resources and individually were only able to produce very little.

“The mine next to our community pollutes the ground water, this is not good for the crops”, Sabina explained. “The mine does not provide us with any help. Our government is absent as well. All of us are feeding families of 10-15 people.”

“We were working before, but we don’t get any benefits", Sabina continued. "We don’t know what our future will be like. What we do know is that we need fertilizers and tools. Clean water and electricity for our community.”

Working together has begun to improve these women’s situation though. “Our group consists of 10 women”, Sabina said. “We share ideas, we raise funds for school and we sell sugarcane, chalk wood, cassava, tomatoes. All in small quantities of course. But it’s a start. We rely on each other for help.”

But the group need help to achieve their goals, to get enough resources to farm successfully and earn income for the future.

What we need now is more knowledge and some capital to invest in our farm land outside the township. But this land needs resources, it needs clean water.

Natwisonge Women Group is now supported by ActionAid Netherlands partner – DECOP. Niza/AA Netherlands helps communities and partner organizations in the Copperbelt province to get a fair share of Zambia's wealth in natural resources.  

“We are taking the first steps with starting our own women’s group. Now we need to expand our work so we can take care of our families.”