Friday, February 4

On Ice, No Flies

This is how I like my fish.

Thursday, February 3

Not MORE Guacamole!

I grew and distributed over 200 avocado trees when I was in Zambia. Of course, I had to eat the avocados before I could sprout the seeds. Man, I ate tons of avocados: smothered on bread; with a spoon at breakfast; boiled down and covering pasta (which is quite good, actually).

Avocado seed  (image courtesy of faq.gardenweb.com)

Here's a clear explanation of how to grow an avocado tree yourself.

I Wouldn't Drink It If It Were Free

Prepare for Zambia to be besieged with riots! The price of Chibuku rises today! Arrrrgh!

Chibuku is, uh, an acquired taste. Despite what you might find online, it's NOT homebrew (although some local brewers might call their homebrews "Chibuku" to be funny). Chibuku is manufactured commercially and distributed throughout Southern Africa. It comes in large cardboard containers much like oversized school-milk cartons. Often, people will spoon sugar into their Chibuku before consuming it.

If you swing through Zambia, you should try it, if only for the experience of drinking beer from a cardboard box.

Chibuku is also known as "Shake-Shake," because you "shake-shake" it before you drink it. Those clever Zambian marketing directors.

Frying Poachers

The roads in rural Zambia are unpaved and in very poor condition. To be sure, riding on these roads will be a bone-rattling situation.

One road in particular -- Luangwa Road -- is especially bad. Running between Chipata and South Luangwa Park in Eastern Province, this road is potholed and often washes away in the rainy season. One game lodge volunteered to pave the 100-mile-road at their own expense in order to increase tourist traffic. Government, however, refused, claiming paved roads would aid poachers in their escape attempts. As a result, the roads remained unpaved. (Meanwhile, some argued that ignoring development in Eastern Province was a way for then-President Chiluba to punish a province that had not supported him in his presidential bids.)

However, this month, the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) announced it would institute additional checkpoints along major roads to help combat poachers. (Of course, this means paying additional civil servants, something Zambia is currently struggling with.) While checkpoints have existed for a while, added checkpoints might well deter poachers. And maybe Luangwa Road will finally be paved.

But Not By Pot

An 80-year-old-Chipata woman was yesterday stoned to death by her grandson on suspicion that she was a wizard.

Wednesday, February 2

Habitat in Zambia

Habitat for Humanity is in Zambia.

Banyoka

I've never heard of Banyoka, but evidently, it's a children's game in Zambia.

"Drink This and Call Me In The Morning"

I have blogged about witch craft and exorcism in Zambia before. However, I have not mentioned that many traditional healers report they are able to cure -- or least mitigate the effects of -- HIV/AIDS.

Recently, the Times of Zambia reported that some of Zambia's traditional healers are trying to get Government to test their "alternative medicines." One doctor has requested Government to fund clinical trials (costing $400,000) of "K-Punch," an herbal remedy he reports to have invented that slows the advance of the disease.

While traditional healers might be a solution, it is important to keep in mind that many of these healers encourage infected men to sleep with virgin girls in order to cleanse themselves of the virus.

Zambians Are Not Guinea Pigs

Accoding to Science and Development Network, Zambia's health minister Brian Chituwo said that for some health studies undertaken in Zambia, researchers have been able to avoid assessment of research ethics.

Therefore, he plans to set up an independent national committee to monitor the ethics of health research, and to protect the rights, health and safety of participants in clinical trials of potential drugs.

Tuesday, February 1

"Karavinas"

After 27 years of civil war in Angola, Zambia's Western and North Western provinces are awash with weapons; an AK-47 costs the equivalent of 10 kg of maize (about $5). Further, there are reports of a burgeoning cottage industry: Karavinas, or contract killers, can be hired to settle a small domestic dispute or a major blood feud. They accept cash or livestock as payment.

Evidently, some Zambians are willing to walk for 7 seven days to market in order to avoid Karavinas.

In an effort to curb the spread of firearms, authorities recently introduced a weapons buyback program. Unfortunately, the program had the opposite effect: according to police in Mongu, the promise of cash encouraged people to import even more weapons from Angola.

From "Garden City" to "Garbage City"

Recently, I mentioned that Zambia's urban waste problem was contributing to diarrhea and cholera.

This morning, I learned something new: Lusaka has garbage collection schemes. However, according to IRIN, they seem to be failing. In a place that used to be known as the "Garden City," this is rather disappointing.

What's Bad For Zimbabwe Is Good For Zambia?

I have previously blogged about Zambia's reliance on cash crops, like tobacco. Evidently, however, tobacco is becoming more prevalent thanks to Zimbabwe's President Mugabe. In 2000, Mugabe siezed 340 massive farms throughout his country. As a result, 340 farmers fled; 150 moved to Zambia. The rest relocated in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and even Nigeria!

Since relocating, tobacco production in Zambia has skyrocketed, added to the country's GDP, created jobs, and spread farming technology. Universal is the world's largest tobacco-leaf purchaser. Last year, it
bought 15 million kilograms of flue-cured tobacco and 3.5 million tons of burley from 47 large growers in Zambia and 5,515 small farmers. That compares with 3.1 million kilograms of flue-cured and 1.8 million kilograms of burley in 2000. The company forecasts Zambia will produce 26.7 million kilograms of tobacco this year.
In addition to tobacco, the farmers grow soy, wheat and flowers. Some export seed corn to Zimbabwe, once an exporter of crop seeds.

Refugees Steal Food

There are an estimated 100,000 refugees -- mainly from the DRC and Angola -- in western Zambia. According to the UN, some refugees have been sneaking out of the camps to loot crops from nearby fields. Local residents have started complaining, because they are afraid for their safety.

It's no wonder the refugees have resorted to theft: the WFP claims it had to halve the food rations provided to refugees between October and December. As a result of donor promises, the WFP restored full food rations in January. However, according to WFP Country Director David Stevenson, donor promises have failed to materialize, and the WFP may be forced to halve the rations again in March. As a result, there is a concern that this could lead to increased instability in the region, as well as inhibit voluntary repatriation.

Free ARV Drugs

HIV-positive staff and students at the University of Zambia (UNZA) will now be able to receive free antiretroviral drugs on campus.

Monday, January 31

Malaria Is A "Buzzkill"

Zambia's Health Deputy Minister Kapembwa Simbao claims malaria is responsible for 50,000 deaths in Zambia each year and 47% of all hospitalizations.

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