Anna Tembo is 36 years old and lives in the village of Mumbi in Ongolwe Ward, Petauke District, Zambia. She is married to John Chiponya Lungu (39) and the couple have three sons: Moses, Noyah and Mphaso. Like most of the people living in Ongolwe Ward, Anna is a smallholder farmer.

The Challenges

Erratic rainfall and prolonged dry spells in the area are a big challenge for Anna and her neighbours, who depend on rain-fed agriculture. During the dry season rivers and streams dry up and the earth is hard and scorched, making growing food extremely challenging. Many of the community’s water points are damaged so women in Mumbi often leave home at 2 or 3am and walk more than 2km in the dark to queue for water. The small amount of water they can carry must be shared between the farm and the home.

When the rains do come they often result in floods, causing extensive damage to the land. This washes away nutrients and crops and isolates villages, not only from each other but from Petauke Town where markets, clinics and other services provide a lifeline.

Zambia's hungriest district 

Petauke District is Zambia’s largest producer of maize but also the country’s hungriest district. Chasing the small amounts of money offered by the maize buyers, families like Anna’s devote all their land to growing only maize and do not reserve any space to grow other food crops. Families do not make much money from selling maize and will often eat just one meal a day.

Anna and her neighbours have also been trapped by the promotion of chemical fertilisers, which they have been led to believe are the only way to enhance their production. However, fertilisers are often ineffective as they are either scorched by the sun or washed away by violent rains and, are still very expensive. Many people who are fortunate enough to own animals are being forced to sell them to pay for fertilisers, which means they are no longer able to include animal proteins in their already poor diets.

Send a Cow Zambia

When Anna first started working with SACZ, she was sceptical about getting involved, having seen many other NGOs come to the area and go again without leaving a legacy. Anna’s scepticism wasn’t helped by her husband, who disapproved of the amount of time Anna was spending away from home at SAC training sessions and was unsupportive of her engagement with the project. However, it did not take long for things to change.

Anna set up a system for harvesting water from the roof of her house during the rains so that she had enough water to irrigate her plants once the rain stopped. She also built a compost pit close to the house. She was then able to use the water and compost to grow vegetables in bag gardens and re-purposed plastic containers so that she didn’t have to lose any of the land she uses for growing maize.

We’re thinking big!

Anna’s pride and joy is the stunning keyhole garden that she built next to her house, which soon overflowed with tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, kale and spinach. Once Anna and John saw how well they could provide for their family despite the environmental challenges, they were both convinced that working with SACZ would bring long-lasting change to their lives.

As well as her gardens, Anna has a dish-rack and tip-tap in her yard so that her family can stay healthy. She has also constructed storage facilities for the maize and groundnuts she grows so that they last longer and can be eaten during the less productive months of the year.

Before Anna joined the Hope Means Future project, John would make all the plans for the future. Now, the couple have set themselves a joint target of raising 20,000 Zambian Kwacha (approx. £1700) in the next year to buy a motorbike so that they can take their produce to more lucrative markets. In 2019 they plan to have enough money to buy a vehicle that they can run as a taxi and to take their friends and neighbours to town too. In Anna’s own words, they are ‘thinking big’!

Find out more about Anna's training