Muli shaani? (“How are you?” in Bemba.)
Welcome to Zambia! Or, at least, welcome to a place where you can learn about development in Zambia, get to know Zambia a little and keep up with what I’m doing and my work in Zambia with Engineers Without Borders (EWB).
In an attempt to keep things somewhat organized, let me introduce the broad themes of my postings here:
The Wonderful World of Development
First off, I suppose I should give a quick definition of what development is. Here’s one:
"Creating an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives." - Mahbub ul Haq
And here’s another:
“Kicking poverty ass” - Jonas Roberts, EWB member (and a good buddy of mine)
Oh, here’s one more:
“Positive change.” - Robert Chambers, development guru.
I could go on.
And here we have a quick introduction to the world of development. The lesson: there are no simple answers. This complexity makes it challenging and, admittedly, at times frustrating. Attempts to solve a problem will oftentimes just reveal more problems that were hidden at first glance, just as trying to answer a simple question such as “what is development?” often leads to more difficult questions.
Even after having been here for only a short time, it’s incredible to me that I’ve encountered so many of the things that I’ve learned about development through books and EWB training staring me right in the face in everyday life here in Zambia. From time to time I’ll share some of these experiences and hopefully you can learn along with me.
ZATAC, the Zambia Agribusiness Technical Assistance Centre, is a local non-profit organization that I am working with. They offer agribusiness project management services in Zambia.
Initially I will be working as a field officer with a number of farmers’ groups in the Copperbelt Province to develop and strengthen their production of honey, Tabasco chillies, coffee and peanuts (called ground nuts here) for sale to export markets. OK, so I don’t know much about farming, but my Mom has a really great garden going at our house, so that makes me qualified to support rural Zambian farmers, right?
There’s definitely going to be a period of learning for me at the beginning. But my role here is to help ZATAC develop as an organization and strengthen its capacity in terms of its project implementation. I bring a new set of experiences and knowledge that will hopefully be able to complement the already well-recognized good work that ZATAC is doing.
I’ll go into detail about my work more specifically in later posts.
Zambia: The Real Africa
This is the gripping slogan of Zambia’s new tourism campaign. If you come to Africa, you don’t want to go just anywhere, you want to go to the REAL Africa. But my “Real Africa” likely won’t be much like the one you’ll see in a brochure from the Zambian Department of Tourism. My “Real Africa” also won’t be the Africa you see in the news everyday where war and corruption seem pre-eminent. It won’t be the Africa you see on World Vision commercials that show Africa as desperate and hopeless in order to get your donation. It won’t be the Africa you see in National Geographic, either (well, OK, I may have a tourist moment or two. One of the Seven Wonders of the World (Victoria Falls) is less than a day’s trip away, after all). So these posts will be about my Zambian experiences - an introduction to everyday Zambia through the eyes of a young engineer from Newfoundland working in development (with perhaps the occasional elephant or waterfall sighting).
Ed being Ed
These posts will be regular updates covering a smorgasbord of thoughts and stories. I’ll introduce you to some interesting people I meet, delve a little deeper into the life of an EWB overseas volunteer, share some random thoughts and give a little perspective of a young Newfie immersed in a new culture.
Thanks for reading and please - read on! There are links at the bottom of the page to subscribe to the blog to find out when I post new entries ro to send me a message. Let me know what you would like to see on the blog and feel free to ask any questions that you may have, be it on deep development theories or what the beer in Zambia is like.