Draft Animals Give Women New Lease Of Life In Zambia

Rosa, one of the recipients of draft animals from a joint WFP and Heifer Zambia project

Copyright: Heifer Zambia

The Women's Empowerment through Animal Traction (WEAT) project is being implemented in two districts, Mazabuka in Southern and Kawambwa in Luapula Province. Heifer International Zambia has worked with community structures and local leadership to identify beneficiaries for the project.

On 10 November 2011, Rosa Michelo was faced with a startk choice: allow the death of her husband destroy her family’s hope of a secure and comfortable future or get back on her feet and work to provide for her family.

After her husband’s death, Rosa’s life in Panuka in Zambia’s Southern Province changed dramatically. Suddenly burdened with the task of being the sole provider for her family of six children, she resorted to living with her younger brother. The independence she valued when she and her husband were able to provide for their children was stripped away when she, became a dependent of her younger brother.

Once Rosa gained the courage to move out with her children, she found herself struggling to fulfill her late husband’s responsibilities. 

“I had no idea what my family would survive on, as I had no money to hire draft cattle for cultivating my fields, and manual cultivation takes a long time,” she says. “But my prayers were answered. It was like a dream.”

Farming communities

Rosa’s family was one of 50 households selected in two districts of Southern and Luapula Provinces to benefit from a joint project by WFP and Heifer Zambia known as ’Women’s Empowerment through Animal Traction’ . The joint initiative aims to enable women to participate in securing their family’s food and income through the ownership and use of draft animals. By targeting vulnerable women farmers through self-help groups (cooperatives and women’s clubs), the project helps to strengthen and support the socio-economic status of women in rural farming communities. 

After receiving two draft cattle from the project, Rosa was amazed at the difference it made.

“Look at my maize field,” she says, “Out of faith, I planted this maize and for the first time in so many years, it was planted in good time and I can expect a good harvest!”

In addition, her cattle will be a source of milk for improved nutrition and wealth creation. 

Once Rosa’s cattle produce offspring, they will be passed onto another family in her community so that they may benefit in a similar way. 

With the food security of her family no longer in question and her sense of independence firmly established, Rosa has a new-found confidence in the future.