In Sesheke, almost every farming season is punctuated with the perennial story of rural farmers practising on a small scale, obtaining farming inputs late or not at all because of the poor road infrastructure or because it is non-existent. Sometimes, even after farmers have secured a bumper harvest through their own efforts, stories of uncollected maize in rural areas are not uncommon thus creating post-harvest losses and preventing farmers from improving yields in the next farming season.
They also encounter veterinary problems ranging from inadequate specialised staff to handling drugs and chemicals, inadequate knowledge on the strategies of countering diseases and pests to a limited number of dip tanks.
Education and youths
Sesheke District is among the worst five deprived districts in Zambia on the basis of the average distance in kilometres between schools with an average of 15 kilometres. The road network is very poor and not well maintained. This has made travelling to schools in some areas quiet dangerous for children especially during the rainy season. At times, children need to pass through thick forests, cross deep streams, rivers and unsafe bridges on their way to school.
The negative cultural and traditional practices of having traditional initiation ceremonies for both girls for boys during school terms and child marriages force children especially girls to get married at the expense of attending school. This practice is supported by parents themselves and some girls and boys also accept it.
In most African traditions subservience of women to men especially in rural areas has played a major role in escalating poverty. This has led to the violation of women’s rights especially in the rural areas of Sesheke. Most women accept violence from their husbands and similarly, traditional court systems perpetuate gender inequality while society reinforces low status of women.
The above has given rise to a situation where most women do not have access to resources such as land and livestock. In exceptional circumstances, women engage in economic activities but due to the norm of subservience, proceeds are submitted to the head of the family who makes the final decision on how they are to be spent.
All the ethnic tribes that are found in Sesheke follow a patriarchal system of governance where a man rules a family, clan or tribe. Because of this type of governance most decisions regarding family way of life and access to resources are influenced by men. Allocation, occupation and use of land is generally done through customary law, where an adult married man is allocated land for use by himself and his family. Thus women only have access to land and related natural resources through their spouses or male relatives.