Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog, including strong statements in support of weinerdog-riding monkeys, are our own, and not those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Western Province

On Monday I got up at 4:40 am to get to the airport for a 6:00 am charter flight to Mongu, the capital of Western Province. I went with the U.S. Africa Development Foundation, a U.S government agency that provides small grants ($100,000 to $250,000) for enterprise development and expansion projects. It supports private sector development and is focused on the more marginalized populations around rural Zambia (and other African countries).

The President of USADF was visiting Zambia, and went to Western to sign three new grants, two for rice cooperatives in rural villages and one for a dairy cooperative right in the metropolis of Mongu (population 44,000).

Upon arrival, we jumped into cars for a one hour (30 KM) trip to Ushaa for the first signing. Western Province represents the easternmost area of Kalahari sand, although for a sandy area it supports significant agriculture and forest. But the rural road to Ushaa was basically a sand track. We got stuck in the sand once. While getting hooked up to be pulled out, another car in our convoy drove by and sideswiped the truck pulling us out -- and kept going. Then, the guys attached the tow rope to our bumper, pulling it halfway off while extricating us from the sand.

All in all, it was a bumpy ride.

So come with me as we travel to Ushaa.

About 200 of Ushaa's inhabitants were gathered to greet us. They were the members of the Ushaa rice growers' association, and were about to get $100,000 to help them develop marketing and business plans, make some capital purchases and help them access markets for their rice.

They were justifiably happy, and the ladies expressed their happiness in song and dance.

A jarring one hour ride back and we headed south of Mongu to Nanjucha, where we were greeted by another group of cooperative members who got a similar grant from USADF. More dancing and singing ensued. Note the guy in the red cap (and dress-like clothing) who joined in. He's the area chief. Nice cane, too.

We hurried back to Mongu in order to get back to Lusaka by dark. We just made it too.

Fun day.


At 12:41 PM, Blogger Shannon said...

Whew after watching that video I am so glad we are ditching the minivan in favor of a 4 wheel drive for our upcoming move to Malawi. I love the colors and patterns in the ladies clothing. Lovely.


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