Thursday, March 24

16 Day Southern Sail-A-Way Overland Tour: Zambia to Johannesburg

OK, so only 2 of the Sail-A-Way's 16 days are in Zambia, but it sounds like an awesome time. I'm not a big fan of overland trips, generally, but I must admit:
  1. I have been on one (in Namibia), and it was fun.
  2. I have spoken to others who have been on month-long (and longer) Overland trips, and they loved them.
  3. Overland vehicles are among the awesomest things on the planet. I don't need one in South Florida, but if I move back to Africa one day . . .

If you have extra time, maybe you can do the "24 day Tropical Trek from Zambia to Malawi & Mozambique."

Zambia Goodies

Technocrati shows all kinds of (Creative Commons) goodies from the web about .

POP Goes Africa

According to a population factsheet published bythe Population Reference Bureau:
  1. The top 15 HIV/AIDS Prevalence Countries, at the end 0f 2003, are all in Africa (Zambia is 7th). Haiti is the top-ranked, non-African country.
  2. "Developing countries will far outpace developed countries in population growth because of a young age structure as well as higher birth rates." (Sub-Saharan Africa shows a ratio of children aged 15 and under to those over 65 of 44:3). How will this affect politics, the economy, hegemony, etc.?
  3. Zambia's "total fertility rate" -- the average number of children born to a woman during her lifetime -- is 5.6. (Much of Eastern Europe posts rates of around 1.2; Afghanistan is 6.8; Somalia is 7.1).

I Wish It Were "Cash"

And while we're talking about GPS in Zambia, you can always participate in a Zambian geocache:
"The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache."
As of today, there is only 1 cache in Zambia.

1 incomplete, 7 visited, 62 total

The goal of the Degree Confluence project is "to visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location. The pictures and stories will then be posted here." Here's an excerpt from the first people who, uh, confluenced in Zambia:

"Being equipped with a GPS (Garmin 45), map and compass, we realized that pretty close to the street between Mazabouka and Kafue there is the Confluence 16S 28E. We planned to find the point on our way from Livingstone to Kafue on June 18th."

Their pictures are interesting. This sounds like a great, albeit somewhat geeky, project. I wish I were in Zambia with a GPS; I'd help!

Naah . . .Let's Just Go Home

Zambia has closed a refugee camp in the eastern part of the country after refugees, mainly from neighbouring Angola, opted to return home. There are still a lot (55,000 - 300,000) of refugees in Zambia.

Zambia has had problems with Angolan refugees in the past.

Wednesday, March 23

Mutemwa Lodge

Mutemwa Lodge -- owned by former Springboker Gavin Johnson -- is located in Zambia's western province, near Sioma Ngwezi National Park and Liuwe Plains National Park. The camp is relatively isolated; "Mutemwa" translates as "you are cut off."

The Lodge offers guided bird watching, wildlife walks, angling, sunset cruises, and visits to local scenic spots. However, the most interesting thing they provide is a cultural experience with the Lozi tribe during The Ku-omboka Ceremony.

The name means "to get out of the water onto dry ground." Every year towards the end of the rainy season as the flood plain of the upper Zambezi valley rises, the Lozi king makes a ceremonial move to higher ground. The drums signal to his people, they pack their belongings into canoes and the whole tribe leaves en masse.

The chief in his barge with his family and a troop of traditionally dressed paddlers take the lead. It takes about six hours to cover the distance between the dry season capital Lealui, and the wet season capital Limulunga. There the successful move is celebrated with traditional singing and dancing.

This ceremony dates back more than 300 years when the Lozi people broke away from the great Lunda Empire to settle in the upper regions of the Zambezi. The vast plains with abundant fish were ideal for settlement but the annual floods could not be checked, so each year they move to higher ground until the rainy season passes.
Traditional ceremonies are vanishing throughout the world. Take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity before it's too late!

Headed For The Maize Maze

In the past, Zambia has endured droughts and been forced to import maize. Last year, however, Zambia produced a surplus of maize, which it exported to neighboring countries. This year -- although forecasts had predicted plentiful rainfall for the 2004-2005 growing season -- it appears that erratic rainfall will force Zambia to import at least 300,000 tons of maize to avert a food shortfall.

According to Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatana: "This scanty rainfall has happened as a complete opposite to the weather bureau forecast." Ironically, rainfall in some parts of the country has led to flooding and the collapse of housing.

Stanley Ndhlovu, disaster management coordinator with the Zambia Red Cross Society, claims: "We found 40 to 80 percent crop failure in five provinces . . . [and] We found 100 percent crop failure in the southern province, where we could not even find green maize on the plants."

Tuesday, March 22

Where's The Faucet?

Here are some excellent photos dealing with the subject of Zambia and water.

Aren't you glad you don't collect your drinking water this way?
Or have to use this well-water to wash your dishes?
Or have to deal with someone locking the faucet?
Or have to wash your clothes here?

Sing It Loud

Song heard in Zambia:

"AIDS is a terrible pandemic!
We little children are suffering!
Our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers are dying.
We hate it! We hate it! We hate it!
AIDS - you are a deadly disease, you killed my grandma and grandpa,
now you are trying to kill my parents.
We hate it! Oh yes we do!"

For Teachers

Here are some (lengthy but quality) teaching materials from UNESCO:
  1. Towards Better Programming. A Sanitation Handbook
    This handbook has been prepared for working groups of professionals to use in planning realistic and better quality sanitation programmes.
  2. Towards Better Programming. A Manual on Hygiene Promotion
    The objective of the manual is to provide a tool that will contribute towards a reduction in diarrhoeal diseases - one of the top three killer diseases in developing countries - and thus a reduction in child mortality.

Jack & Jill . . .

There are several good posters at, including this one:

Water Posters (image courtesy of

Does it matter that it doesn't rhyme?

Sanitation Myths

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council identify (and debunk) 5 myths concerning the lack of progress towards water/sanitation improvements:
  1. The problem is shortage of water
  2. The problem is that governments don’t have the money
  3. The problem is that people are too poor to pay
  4. The problem is lack of technology
  5. The problem is rapid population growth, especially in cities
The Council also argues that childhood malnutrition is the best indicator of hygiene:

"Except in extreme circumstances, child malnutrition has little to do with food availability and everything to do with good hygiene, good sanitation, and good water supply. Frequent illnesses, especially diarrhoea, are what undermine a child’s growth. Disease takes away appetite, inhibits the absorption of nutrients, burns up calories in fever and fighting infection, and drains away nutrients in vomiting and diarrhoea."
Zambia is ranked in the "Very Dangerous" column (25% malnutrition rates). Among developing countries, Chile and Armenia are tops (0.8% and 2.5%). Afghanistan and Korea are last (48% and 60%).

Scary Water Facts

The Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council has some startling facts on its website, including:
  1. 200 million people in the world are infected with schistosomiasis, of whom 20 million suffer severe consequences. The disease is still found in 74 countries of the world. Scientific studies show that a 77% reduction of incidence from the disease was achieved through well designed water and sanitation interventions.
  2. The average distance that women in Africa and Asia walk to collect water is 6 km.
  3. The weight of water that women in Africa and Asia carry on their heads is the equivalent of your airport luggage allowance (20kg).
  4. In Zambia, one in five children die before their fifth birthday. In contrast in the UK fewer than 1% of children die before they reach the age of five.
  5. One gramme of faeces can contain:10,000,000 Viruses, 1,000,000 bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts, 100 parasite eggs.

Egads, man! Let's wash up now!

Kafue Flats

Kafue Flats are the vast, open floodplain of the Kafue River, covering some 6,500 square-km within the wider basin of the Zambezi River. The WWF is active in this area.

Close to 700,000 people live in this region and most earn their living from fishing, cattle grazing, sugarcane farming, and production of hydroelectric power.

On the south-eastern side of Kafue Flats, near the town of Mazabuka, there are several sugarcane farms, each of which cultivates huge areas of land. These farms produce the majority of Zambia’s sugar for local use and export. Each farm relies heavily on water from the Kafue River for irrigation.

In general, WWF’s main goal in Kafue Flats is to persuade traditionally non-conservation oriented stakeholders to integrate the concept of ‘wise use’ of wetlands, including nature conservation, into their own business/livelihood activities.


Another great UNESCO teaching guide, "The Water Cycle," indicates:

Water evaporates from bare soil just like it does from puddles, lakes and seas. Plants take in water through their roots and lose it through their leaves. This is called transpiration. The two processes together, e.g., from a forest or a field of crops, are called evapotranspiration.

A forest can put between 20 and 50 tons of water vapour into the air per hectare per day. Each year 150,000 km2 of rainforest are cut down (more than the area of Bangladesh).

Therefore, deforestation isn't just bad in terms of soil erosion. It's also dangerous in terms of the water table, and has potentially devastating "downstream" consequences, as well. (In other words, clear-cutting a forest doesn't just hurt me; it huts my neighbors, too.)

Turn Off The Tap

About 5% of world consumption of water is domestic, 75% is used for irrigation and the remaining 20% in industry. The average person in a highly industrialized nation uses up to 70 times more water than an average person from a developing country.

UNESCO created an excellent "Managing Water Sources" teaching manual that has some intersting facts about water consumption (in liters per day) around the world:
  • North America -- 200-300
  • Europe -- 100-150
  • "Developing Countries" -- 5-50
When I lived in Zambia, I used 5 gallons (20 liters) of water/day for washing (dishes, hands, house, body) and for drinking and cooking. Washing clothes used extra water.

A Simple Filter

In the past, Zambia has faced school closings as a result of a lack of sanitary facilities. With over a third of its population without access to safe drinking water, it is clear that many Zambians are struggling to manage this precious resource.

UNESCO offers a simple technology for filtering water at schools. A Packed Drum Filter essentially allows water to percolate down through layers of sand and gravel -- to remove any turbidity (think: cloudiness) -- into a reservoir. The water in the reservoir is then treated with a chlorine mixture to sanitize it. After that, it's ready to drink.

Finding a drum -- even in rural Africa -- shouldn't be too challenging, and chlorine is cheap (it's subsidized). Until such time as community can construct an adequate well for itself, the Packed Drum Filter is a viable alternative.

Quote of the Month

According to Koïchiro Matsuura, UNESCO Director General:
'We no longer have a choice. Either humanity adapts its behaviour to support sustainable development, meaning it ceases to pollute the environment, allows the renewal of natural resources and contributes to improve everybody's well-being, or it signs its own, more or less imminent, death sentence. Education plays a crucial role in training citizens. However, it is not always suited to the needs of future societies, both in developed and in developing countries. Environmental and cultural heritage education, for instance, does not always have the place it deserves in school curricula, and the links between culture and the sciences are not adequately emphasized.'
24 February 2005

World Water Day

An estimated 36% of Zambians live without access to an improved water source. (And by "improved," I mean a water source as basic as a well.)

Today is World Water Day 2005, and the theme of the day is: International Decade for Action, 'Water for Life'. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2002:
  • 1.1 billion people lacked access to improved water sources
  • 2.6 billion people lacked access to basic sanitation
  • approximately 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal disease, 90% of them children under the age of five.
The theme of World Water Day 2005 and the Decade emphasizes the central role water plays in sustaining human life. Water is critical for human well-being, environmental health, biodiversity, energy generation, industrial development, food production, and it plays an essential role in many cultures and religions.

Monday, March 21

Changing Money

In Zambia, the most reliable place to change money is (usually) a bank, a bureau de change, or a large hotel. These places will probably not rip you off; they'll provide a receipt; and they'll have cash on-hand. Also, they'll be able to change both cash and traveler's cheques. (I have had banks refuse to exchange TC's for me, because I left the receipt -- the one you're supposed to keep separate from the cheques -- in the hotel.) Of course, banks, hotels, and bureaus will probably give you the poorest exchange rate.

If you want to trade on the street, there are plenty of maney-changers trading on the black market. However, a few tips:

  1. Never change money with a group. They will perform a sleight-of-hand trick.
  2. If there is a group, separate them. Say: "I'll trade, but only with one guy."
  3. Ask at independent hotels where the best place to change money is. Often, it's in the office.
  4. Ask other travelers where they exchanged money.
  5. If you're changing money with a stranger for the first time, it's better to change a small amount. Subsequent exchanges can result in larger denominations.
  6. Remember: 1 "pin" = "1000 kwacha."

Also: if it doesn't feel right, walk away.

Should Traditional Healers Be Included?

Late last year, Zambia's traditional healers called on government to integrate their "folk" remedies with modern medicine.

Now, the Science and Development Network reports that "traditional healers and lawyers are joining forces with scientists in Zambia to help draft a national policy for protecting indigenous knowledge and genetic resources."

This is probably a good idea. However, I know a traditional healer that stubbornly refused to send his sick 8-year-old daughter to the hospital. Instead, he insisted he could cure her. She quickly died. Incorporating traditional healers in the search for cures for diseases like HIV/AIDS and TB is important, but sometimes their unwavering fanaticism makes them ineffective. It's important they remember their solution is not the only one (and may not be the right one).

I Quit! (Or Will I?)

Unfortunately, I've had the opportunity to make posts about corruption in Zambia, including some surrounding Chiluba's mounting problems. Happily, this one is slightly different.

Zambians vote for the President AND the Vice-President; they don't come as a package, like in the U.S. South Africa's Mail & Guardian reports that President Mwanawasa has warned people not to vote for candidates who have been using bribery to win votes. Consequently, Zambia's Vice-President, Lupando Mwape, is threatening to quit his party over alleged acts of corruption and bribery to win votes ahead of the ruling party's convention. Evidently, he wants to be seen as "clean" in the upcoming political race.