By Clementine Denga
The 15th of October 2019 marked a milestone in the path to sustainable development as council officially introduced Nhaka Foundation to the community urging cooperation amongst all stakeholders to the development projects being undertaken at Logan Lee in Seke Rural District Ward 15. Early that morning the Nhaka Foundation team arrived at Logan Lee Primary to assess the progress made on the implementation of a project designed to increase access to comprehensive early childhood development programs. The old school site consists of children learning from improvised facilities which formerly housed farm vegetable grading shades as well as tobacco curing barns. Also with Nhaka Foundation during this site visit were members from the Ministries of Local Government, Primary and Secondary Education and Health. On the same day the Nhaka Foundation Team led by the Projects Director, the Logan Lee School Development Committee, as well as the Rural Council Representatives had a combined stakeholders meeting. This combined meeting discussed the official commissioning of the Tashinga School Construction Project. The project consists of two classroom blocks (one nearing completion with construction of the second set to start soon), a Nutrition Garden supported by a solar powered borehole, and a block of toilets also under construction.
The team from the Ministry of Health also had a mission of carrying out health assessments as part of the project outcomes. The health assessment plan was to start with the Early Childhood learners first. In order to facilitate this process, the learners in the company of their parents and guardians who gave consent for these health checks, had to go through a short questionnaire on determining how much the parents and caregivers know about the ECD program as well as establishing any health problems or impending health threats with the children. This process was led by Nhaka Foundation’s Monitoring and Evaluation Officer. Following the questionnaire the learners had to meet the health professionals who consisted of a nurses, nurse aids, and a nutritionist. Part of the health assessment process includes a check on the current medical records for the children if they are available and these indicate whether the child has been vaccinated before, their physical built, personal hygiene as well as checking the condition of various selected body parts. Following this health assessment, the head nurse provided a preliminary report which indicated that most of the children were affected by ring worms, whilst challenges such as lack of footwear caused lesions on their feet as the children have to walk long distances to attend school.
In late 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 Goals to be used as a template for sustainable human development. While the operations of Nhaka Foundation fall primarily under SDG 4 and 4.2, the organization vacillates between other goals in order to provide integrated and comprehensive support to the children and communities it serves. For example, in its programming, Nhaka Foundation noted that a combination of other goals is inevitable, for instance, the solar powered borehole which waters the garden is an effort satisfying the aspirations of SDG 7 (Clean and Affordable Energy) and SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) respectively, while the Nutrition Garden is an SDG 2 (No Hunger) effort.
Nhaka Foundation, as a non-profit organization works in close partnership with parents, caregivers and community stakeholders to ensure that the programs are sustainable and are testament of the communities own developmental aspirations. Part of the sustainability effort ensures that the community is able to venture into small business opportunities. For example, once the community manages to secure enough vegetables for the children, they sell the extra produce and generate some income which will help in purchasing corn meal, cooking oil and other requirements for the feeding program. In addition to this, excess funds are also used to support the school purchase books, pens and other materials for the learners. Members of the community help with locally made construction materials and the classrooms are projected to last at least 50years, which is an achievement falling under SDG 9 addressing infrastructure development. Being locally made makes the bricks and other materials a sustainable means to build sustainable communities. Nhaka Foundation is also working with the School Development Committee and Rural Council on plans for other income generating projects.
The partnerships between the community, local Council, BMZ – Terres des Hommes, Nhaka Foundation and the school authorities is manifestation of SDG 17, a key goal suggesting that efforts to achieve sustainable development require cooperation and partnership of different stakeholders, key being the government, NGOs, Private Sector as well as local communities earmarked for development.
Whilst there has been tremendous progress made with this project, challenges such as lack of cooperation between certain stakeholders, political polarisation and community conflict also hinder greater progress. Nhaka Foundation as a non-partisan, independent and objective partner with this community continues to engage with all stakeholders in order to to have the children learn in decent, habitable and safe environments.
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