Farm in Andara
About a year ago we started planning how we could counteract hunger, poverty and unemployment in Andara. We always believed that with hard work, perseverance, our different resources and close cooperation we would achieve our goals. Often we reached our limits. But the desire and faith in our project made us look for further possibilities.
Many encouraging conversations and many unexpected support of any kind gave us the necessary motivation and strength to invest countless hours in the project planning and now implement our project.
We thank you very much for your support and the trust you have placed in us!
Dipupo means in our Thimbukushu language: strong flowing river. It symbolizes strength, endurance, life and joy. But Dipupo also radiates peace and serenity and is the meeting place to meet friends outside the village and to go swimming.
When we were looking for a name for our project, we quickly agreed.
I, Kostodius Malasa, come from the community of Andara in the Mukwe district. My motivation for this project was and is to offer a better future to our children, because we live in an area of great poverty. I am supported by Patrizia Bevilacqua. Together we are working hard to advance our region.
Since mid-January 2020, we have been working on implementing our project plan.
This has already given some people in the region Kangumbe the opportunity to work and earn money by helping to clean the land, prepare the fields, erect fences and produce bricks for house building.
As the rain started, it turned green everywhere.
For our agricultural project we are dependent on water, which we share with the surrounding settlements. The inhabitants of the Kavango East region are mostly self-supplying and often have to walk long and arduous distances to bring water home.
21th January 2020
In order for the Aqua Drilling CC vehicles to drive onto the property, the workers have to widen the access road. The company can then start drilling for groundwater.
On February 8, 2020, we began groundwater drilling and from 16 February 2020 we were able to supply ourselves and the neighbouring settlements with drinkable groundwater.
10'000 liter water tank
As soon as water was available on the square, the workers began to produce the bricks, which they make themselves for cost reasons.
In the meantime, the preparatory work for the foundation walls of the house has also begun. All this sweaty work is done by hand.
26th February 2020
Small stones are used to hold the bricks in the grooves and the outer walls are built on this base.
The next step is now to collect larger stones and fill them into the foundation, after that the whole thing is concreted in to create a stable ground.
To protect the farmland from wild animals, we surround the property with locally produced wooden stakes. Smaller wooden stakes will fill in the gaps at a later stage so that even smaller animals cannot slip through.
With the purchase of local products we give people a chance to earn money with our project and thus increase their standard of living.
The plants are already growing due to the heavy rainfalls since January, so that the first food can be harvested soon.
10th March 2020
Until now, people from the surrounding settlements came to fetch water at any time of day or night. The water supply is often the children's task, and therefore Costody has called a meeting with the locals to discuss the handling of the water supply with them. They agreed that water would only be fetched during the day. In the dark it is also too dangerous because of the snakes and other small animals.
Later we want to dig water pipes so that the inhabitants near their settlements can fetch water.
Since the middle of February the workers have been busy with the construction of the house.
The self-produced bricks will be processed as soon as they are dry.
The work is carried out accurately and precisely and is checked by the trained bricklayer.
The floor of the house was filled with stones and levelled with cement.
The daily progress can be seen.
19th March 2020
In the following some pictures of the project work.
Snakes lurk in the bushes, so it is important to clear the farmland of bushes and steppe grass. In the rainy season everything grows lush and the women have a lot to do, especially since the area of the future field is large.
The children help with some of the work, look after their siblings or are left to their own devices.
While the father and his son herd the pigs and provide them with food and water every day, the men make small wooden poles and weave them into the fence surrounding the whole property.
As long as there is enough cement on site, the workers make bricks so that the bricklayer can continue working on the house.
For the development of our project we mainly employ residents of the surrounding settlements. On this picture only a part of the workers are shown, some don't like to be photographed, others were not on site.
17 March 2020
Namibia declared a national emergency, which is provisionally valid until the beginning of May, but can be extended to 6 months. The possibilities of movement are limited and Costody has to organize itself well to continue working on our project. The workers are able to keep the necessary distance rules and fortunately we have enough water on our property to comply with the hygiene regulations.
The persistent, sometimes heavy rainfalls have slowed down our work somewhat. The wetness that penetrated through the tents and straw houses weakened the workers, so that some became ill and they had to pause their work.
The problem with our truck could be solved in the meantime, so that we can now do without the external transports.
We had to organize the spare parts for the truck in Harare and pick them up ourselves, then the mechanics got to work. Now our truck is ready for action and driving again.
This has also delayed work that would have been difficult to complete without suitable transport facilities. The workers would have had to carry the logs one by one to our site. Everyone was relieved when the truck was finally on site.
Interim storage in Rundu
Interim storage and sleeping place on our site
Despite the difficult situation, the workers are willing to continue working. They are dependent on work, because without it they have no income and would not know how to feed their families.
While the parents work, the children are left to themselves. Often they sit there for hours and hours and nobody takes care of them. They only get something to eat, if at all, once a day, because their parents have hardly any money for food and also have no possibilities to go shopping. The children are involved in the daily work, so they are responsible for fetching water from an early age.
In the following series of pictures you can see the living conditions of the people in the Kangumbe region who have found a job with us.
With the groundwater well and the 10'000 litre tank we could make their daily work easier. Their long and difficult walks are now a thing of the past. We were able to improve their hygiene and provide them with enough drinkable water.
The water vein is large enough to irrigate our future agriculture.
Mukosho is a boy of about two years. While his mother tears out the steppe grass, he is always left to his own devices. Costody took him along when he went to get food for the residents. Mukosho looks sceptical, as he has probably never been allowed to ride in a ca before.
Despite difficult working conditions, the workers are motivated to bring our project forward. The sanitary and electrical lines are installed and the walls are plastered and painted. The next step are the covering of the ceiling with insect screen, then installation of the lamps and finally the floor tiles.
For the time being, only a small garden was created to gain experience. As soon as the mahangu harvest (pearl millet) and the construction work is completed, Thiyoka's brother will inform the local residents about the cultivation of large areas of land and help with them.
The construction work on the residential building has been largely completed, so that the workers are now starting to build the pigsty.
In the newly built henhouse there is only few chickens living at the moment. In the future we want to buy more chickens and build a chicken farm to sell the eggs and thus create a small source of income.
The women who are responsible for the horticulture have prepared a bigger garden bed for the new planting of the growing plants.
The interior of the house is also progressing.
Now it is winter in Namibia and the nights get very cold. In order to protect themselves from the cold, the workers have moved into the living house with their tents in order not to freeze too much in the nights.
As soon as the ceilings are covered, the electrical cables are connected.
The next step is to lay the floor tiles. The house should be finished by the end of July and then NORED workers will start laying the electricity.
Countless bags of cement have already been processed and we still need more to finish the pigsty.
The workers, who have no employment, provide the food. In this tripod the main meal Pap is cooked over an open fire. The white corn porridge, similar to our polenta, is filling and often the only food people eat. If they have enough income, Pap is served with vegetables and meat. Usually people eat from a common plate by hand.
2 July 2020
Workers of NORED came to our place and informed themselves where they have to lay the electric lines and where the transformer station should be placed. They walked around the whole piece of land, looked at the situation and came to an agreement with Costody Malasa. In order for the lines to be laid,they have to clean the bush land. Costody will ask the local juniors of the football club if they will help with the clearing again.
The workers are building the stable for the pigs. The barn is far away from the house in the interior of the country and the building material has to be transported laboriously over sand tracks. Often the truck sinks into the sand, so that the workers have to bring the material there partly with wheelbarrows. How we are going to bring the stones there, to level the stable floor, will be a big challenge.
Mid July 2020
The nights are still cold and the workers still sleep in their tents in the house. However, the house cannot completely protect them from the cold nights, because the windows are still without glass. The window glass is only used at the end of the construction phase, as a precautionary measure against glass breakage during the construction work.
The walls are painted, floor tiles are laid and paneled like ceiling.
The cover for the waste water collection basin is still missing. The basin will be covered with stable zinc sheets to prevent accidents and reduce stench and flies to a minimum.
Lately donkeys and goats have been coming to our property again and again, trampling the small garden and eating the plants. Therefore the workers are now working on fencing the property with tree trunks and wire.
Several times a day, children from the three surrounding villages come to our water point and fill their bottles and canisters. Our water source is the closest from their home, which is about 15 km away. Sometimes they are accompanied by adults, but often the children do this important task alone.
Kindergarten or school education is not possible for many, because the way to school would be too long and too dangerous and also often because the parents cannot afford the little school fees.
In order for NORED to lay the electrical lines to our project site, the workers have to strike a wide lock into the bush. This exhausting work is only progressing slowly, because the necessary tools are missing and the tufts of grass are torn out one by one by hand. The roots often remain in the soil and can continue to grow unhindered.
The clean-up work is still in progress and progress is slow and sluggish.
The thick, up to 6 cm long thorns of the camel thorn tree make the work even more difficult. Costody injured himself on one of these thorns and had to have the long and deep wound stitched in the hospital. He was discharged home with antibiotics and painkillers and lay in bed with a slight fever and weakened. After 2 days he slowly resumed work.
The piece of land has not yet been completely fenced in and so there are always free-ranging cows, goats and donkeys on our land, eating the planted food. The animals can be driven away for a short time, but they always find a loophole in the fence and return. We have not yet been able to find the owners of the animals and ask them to care better at their animals.
NORED still keeps us waiting to start laying the electrical lines.
Getting in touch with them is time-consuming, because nobody feels responsible and NORED's employees don't find the time to check the situation on site.
In mid-October the foremen of Nored arrived and are still dissatisfied with the work of the men. We now have to look for other solutions so that we can soon start laying the electric cables. Costody is now in contact with a company that would clear the way with their machine.
Already for the second time we had no water on the course. According to the company, the solar panels were very dirty during the inspection and they could not use their full power. After cleaning, the water flowed again, but with little pressure.
End of October
After difficult weeks, during which hardly anything went forward, we were able to organize a backhoe loader, with the help of which we were able to better clear the way for the power line, so that the trucks from Nored will have better and wider access to the project site. The workers, who carried out the clean-up work by hand under the almost 40°C hot African sun, will surely be grateful when this heavy, sweaty work is finally done.
After a long wait and insistence Nored has now started work. Since the last inspection, we did not continue with the cleanup because we did not agree which problem the inspector was complaining about. Nored did not give an answer to our question why we had to wait so long.
The problem with the water flow rate has not yet been solved. Whether it is due to the low water table or to the plant, we do not know yet. The clarifications with the company Aqua Drilling are in progress.
In addition, the workers have discovered that the pipes to the pigsty have been broken or deliberately demolished. Therefore, only a small trickle of water has been flowing towards the stable recently. These pipes urgently need to be replaced so that the workers can finish building the barn. Only a little is missing, but they need water to mix the cement.
Dear reader, at the moment I am on site and working on the project. Soon I will be able to share my experiences with you.
Thank you very much for your understanding.
For three weeks I was able to get a personal impression of my project and work with it.
A year ago the property was overgrown with bushes and shrubs, now it is developed with a residential house, a chicken yard, a garden, the far pigsty and a groundwater supply.
Nevertheless, much work still needs to be done to make the farm self-sustaining.
The electricity supply by NORED is still a long time coming. Contacting the responsible persons was very difficult, everything was supposed to be done by mail, but they mostly remained unanswered. Movement came only when we told NORED that we were considering a change to solar energy. Mr. Presley joined us and drove us through the passage of the cleaned path. I was not aware until I was there that our workers had to clear brush from the sluice about 8 km to Andara. My concerns that the passage will be overgrown again by the coming rainy season were not taken seriously and dismissed.
End of October 2020
Middle December 2020
There was no NORED vehicle available before I left and no trained staff due to the upcoming holidays. My fears were therefore not unfounded.
Employees of the company Aqua Drilling AG came by and checked the flow rate of our groundwater supply and checked the drinking water quality.
They noticed that the solar panels were free of dust. Our workers clean the solar panels weekly from dust and dirt, so that water can be pumped even when the sky is overcast.
It takes about 9 hours of sunlight to fill the empty 10'000 lt tank. We decided and informed the adjacent residents that we would close the water point for 4 hours over midday so that the tank could refill and there would always be enough water.
It turned out that the pump installed in the water well had a defect and therefore could not use its full capacity. This pump was replaced and since then we have had no more water delivery problems and no more visual pollution of the water.
The quality of the drinking water complies with the legal requirements and we can enjoy it without hesitation.
Another problem of the water supply is the low water pressure. We could solve this with a booster pump or an increase of the water tank. At the moment, however, we have no other financial means to tackle this problem.
We have fenced our land with a wooden fence to ensure privacy on the farm. We have built a water pipe to the thoroughfare so that the neighboring settlements can get their water from there. This is now one of the central meeting places for residents.
Already in the early morning hours many mothers come with their children to fetch water. The children help to bring the water home and have to carry up to 25 liters of canister.
In order to avoid long journeys, the women wash their clothes on site and spend the day together singing and talking in front of our water point.
I realized the value and burden of fetching water when I saw the women filling their jerry cans to the brim with water so as not to waste a single drop. It is also admirable to see how the women effortlessly carry the heavy jerrycans freehand, balancing them on their heads, the long way home to their settlements, laughing and chatting as they go about their work.
Every evening, a group of residents come with their donkeys to fetch water for their settlement. These people live deep in the bush and the daily water fetching is easier with the pack animals.
Thanks to new donations we were able to start the construction of the kindergarten.
Upon completion, the kindergarten will be approved and registered by the Namibian authorities and the children will be taught according to the Namibian school curriculum. This gives the parents the possibility to pursue their daily work without worries.
We keep school fees as low as possible so that many children will have access to education.
The playground was overgrown with bushes and undergrowth. This work was left to us women. Soon I had sunburn and blisters on my hands because of the unusual work and the strong African sun.
While the workers were busy building the kindergarten, Manuel Shillova started to build the playground "Büdu's Pokupepera".
The siblings of the workers and their children visited us frequently and were happy about the playground, because there is no swing anywhere in the area.
But the other pending work was not neglected. The garden was overgrown with grass, which we weeded.
As soon as the garden was prepared, I began sowing the various seeds.Since there are no plant seedlings in Namibia, I sowed the seeds cabbage, pumpkin, beans, peanuts, melons, onions and ocra directly into the sandy soil with the hope that it will grow.
The little wooden sticks mark the seed course so the seedlings don't get plucked out as weeds, because I've had that experience many times in my gardening and Diana was deliciously amused that I couldn't tell Mutete from weeds.
The still unfinished pigsty was my biggest concern. But here, too, we were able to make progress.
During our stay, the floor was concreted, the zinc roof and the lockable doors were installed.
In the meantime, the interior work has also begun so that the pigs can be housed in separate compartments.
We also cultivated community. We went on weekend excursions together and were able to get to know each other better and enjoy a break from our busy everyday lives.
While waiting for river cruise on Kavango River.
Some hippos unexpectedly appeared next to the boat.
Nonsense in the head
To honor the work of the employees we decided to organize a small farewell dinner together. Thereby the workers could tell us their worries and fears for the future and good conversations resulted. Costody Malasa's family joined us and we spent an entertaining afternoon together.
At the end of December 2020, the pigs were able to move into the new pigsty. Here they have more space, are separated by age and sex and are protected from the African sun. The mother pigs have a separate resting place with their piglets so that they can recover.
The new year started with a lot of muscle work, because the men had to dig the 31 holes for the power poles by hand 2m deep. The bush grew as I feared again a lot and also there the workers had to clear further. To cut the big trees we hired someone with a chainsaw. By hand it would hardly have been possible.
We can also report progress in the construction of the kindergarten. The interior has been painted and the exterior is currently being plastered and then painted.
With the onset of the rainy season, the sown seeds grow very well. Soon mutete can be harvested. Pumpkin, corn, okra and melons are growing, but also the weeds , bush and shrubs, so that continues to require a lot of work in the garden.
We painted the kindergarten in shades of blue, because blue is suitable for finding inner and outer peace. Blue also radiates permanence and spaciousness, this permanence is followed by harmony, sympathy and satisfaction.
We want to show this appreciation to the children.
Project news are continuously updated.
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