We are suffering

For my first two months back in Zambia this year, I stayed in a small house of the address 540 Kabwata. The neighbourhood is a little medium-density suburb of Lusaka close to the centre of town. This was where I was living from September up until going home at Christmastime. But while last year at 540 Kabwata were great, these two months back were grim.

The reason: way too much rain.

And so our home lost it street address for a new moniker: Swamp Kabwata. Swamp was so much more fitting given that

  1. our main street was now completely destroyed—formerly gravel, it was now long pools of stagnant water broken up lumpy rocky outcroppings;
  2. standing water ran right up to our doorstep (though thankfully no further);
  3. concrete stepping stones were required to get from our doorstep to the main (non) road;
  4. the ditches were all silted in;
  5. any trees remaining from the deluge were now trampled by people searching for a dry place to walk;
  6. stuck automobiles were commonplace;
  7. I wore gumboots to work.

It was enough to make you cry. Or make you angry. Critters started rooming in our house to stay dry. Flies seemed to have no where else to go. I became completely lethargic: just the thought of journeying to the road sapped my ambition. Our Zambian flat-mate, Marvin, who owns a construction company and can’t help but bring his work home with him, seemed mostly unperturbed: the welding and metal grinding of his makeshift machine shop continued un-abated on the porch (nevermind that his power cords were submerged in water).

It was all summed up very well one day by a shopkeeper whose canteen had been washed half a block down river (down road).

“We are suffering.”


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Working to include smallholder farmers in agricultural markets, we know there are no easy answers. This blog is a place to ask "What does it take to make it work?" and to share what we're seeing and learning.
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