Stories For Change 52

Easter greetings to you all


Zimpro is one of five Christian Aid partners working in a consortium to provide support in conservation agriculture to farmers in the drought-prone Matabeleland southern region.  This year they have managed to reach 1,000 additional farmers who in October were ready and waiting with fields prepared for the rains.  Lead farmers are identified who are given extra training and support and then help to identify, recruit, train and advise other farmers in their communities.

ZimPro also trains local government agricultural extension officers in the conservation agriculture techniques to ensure that as many farmers as possible benefit from the proven results that conservation farming can bring to poor farmers in arid areas. ZimPro staff set up training sessions in communities which the agricultural extension officers then lead. ZimPro then provides drought-resistant seeds, fertilizers and tools. Their local field monitors visit farmers more regularly than the state workers are able to, for advice, support and further training.

As Zimbabwe enters the worst months of its annual hunger season, many farmers and their families who were forced to eat the seeds they had to plant last time around, who have been identified by ZimPro with the help of lead farmers and taught conservation farming techniques, will grow a significantly larger crop to ensure they are not forced to resort to this desperate measure another year.

Habakkuk Trust

Habakkuk Trust, in partnership with the Zimbabwe Coalition in Debt and Development, mobilized over 3,000 residents of Bulawayo to reject the proposed budget of the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) which would have seen astronomical increases in various rates and charges.

In response to this the BCC brought down its charges by 60 per cent in an unprecedented move.   A Zimbabwean newspaper, The Chronicle, described the move by the two organisations as ‘a rare show of people power’.  In an editorial carried in the same publication the two organisations were commended for mobilizing residents to participate in decision making processes.

Habakkuk Trust will continue to lobby for rates and tariffs charged by government departments, parastatals and local authorities to be reduced to the level of other South African Development Committee (SADC) countries or lower.  Habakkuk Trust says ‘astronomically high rates and tariffs will reverse whatever economic growth we are hoping to achieve as a nation.  Both businesses and ordinary residents will have their incomes eroded, resulting in increasing poverty and unemployment as companies struggle to survive.’  They continue: ‘We appreciate the fact that most of these parastatals and service providers are struggling to survive themselves but if the current rates and tariffs regime persists, the service providers might find themselves folding up as people just do not have the money to pay these bills.’

Habbakuk Trust says ‘the success of the budget campaign shows that Habakkuk Trust’s Action Teams were able to apply what they learnt in advocacy training.’

Watch this short 4-minute clip to see more of what Habakkuk Trust’s Local Level Advocacy programme, funded by Christian Aid and including advocacy training, can achieve, bringing immediate improvements in the lives of poor Zimbabwean families living in rural areas far from the cities. The short film features Habakkuk’s Information and Advocacy officer Sikhu Mkandla and the Ndebeles who are members of their local Action Team in Plumtree, Mangue District.


Pastor Delroy Harris is a minister in Castleton. The FURY group met Delroy at his church in Castleton to learn more about his work in testing and counselling people about HIV. His work takes him into local schools as well as the United Theological College of the West Indies. He says,

“Great hearing from you. Things in Castleton are going well, we have our challenges but going on fine.
The HIV programme is on going. We continue to educate the community and focus mainly for people to know their HIV/AIDS status, so we have been engaged in a lot of testing. I am very happy to report that we have been getting lots of support from the St. Mary Health Department.”


Taken from a report on a press conference report in February 2010

Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh (EquityBD) is an alliance of rights based organizations, and has called on the government of Bangladesh to establish the country’s sovereign authority on the management of the Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) which is going to be operational soon for climate change adaptation in Bangladesh.

At a press conference, EquityBD claimed that since the establishment of MDTF in September 2008, the major contributors to this fund, the UK government, has been creating pressure to the government of Bangladesh to channel this fund through the World Bank. The World Bank should not be allowed to manage the fund in Bangladesh because the Bank has a long history of imposing economic conditions on developing countries, fuelling unjust debts and promoting dirty development. In contrast, there are examples of funds being managed in Bangladesh in democratic and transparent ways, with active participation by civil society. Therefore, EquityBD plan to send open letters to the Prime Minister, Ministers of the respective ministries and to members of  parliaments calling to establish the country’s sovereign position on the management of MDTF.

The speakers at the press conference said that the contribution of the rich nations in climate financing should be additional to the already committed development aid to the developing countries. However, the contribution of the UK government to the MDTF is from the existing aid budgets, which is unexpected and an injustice to the most climate victim country, Bangladesh.

In a broad call for climate justice, especially in climate financing, EquityBD plan to organise a mass rally and human chain during the meeting of the Bangladesh Development Forum. It is hoped this will create pressure on development partners in Bangladesh to support the country with sustainable and additional finance without any interference.

Taken from a report written by WDM


Countdown to Copenhagen: December saw the climax of the Countdown to Copenhagen campaign.

Agencies involved in the Stop Climate Chaos campaign are making plans to continue the campaign through 2010.   In the first 6 months of the year, the main focus of work will be on the UK general election. This spring the country will go to the polls to elect our next government – with no fair or binding deal reached in Copenhagen, this has to be a decisive election issue and politicians must act before it is too late. Please do look at the Christian Aid website to find out more about ‘Ask the climate Question.’

More than 110 nations including the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters back the non-binding Copenhagen Accord for combating climate change, according to a first formal UN list recently. The list helps end weeks of uncertainty about support for the deal which was agreed in December.

The accord, falling short of a binding treaty sought by many nations, sets a goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). Meanwhile, thousands will gather in Bolivia next month to try out a different way of fighting global warming at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, reports Inter Press Service. The conference will advocate the right to “live well” as opposed to the economic principle of uninterrupted growth.

Home-baked is still best

Britain’s enthusiasm for cake baking is shared equally by people of all generations and all social groups according to a poll commissioned by the Christian fair trade organisation Traidcraft.

The poll, carried out by YouGov, shows that almost half (47%) of women and almost one in five men have baked a cake in the last three months. Only 16% of the population have never baked a cake. Enthusiasm is strongest in the East (44%) and South (39%) but wanes in London (29%) and Scotland (25%).

And it’s not just women who are baking cakes; only a third of men interviewed admit to never having baked a cake.

Now, Traidcraft plans to use the results to encourage people to use their kitchen skills in the cause of global poverty by baking a fair trade cake.

To help them, Traidcraft is offering a ‘bake pack’ with a cake recipe card, fair trade almonds from Pakistan, honey from Chile and sultanas from South Africa. Also included is a pair of fair trade rubber gloves to help with the washing up. The pack costs £14.95 (including P&P) – with £5 going directly to Traidcraft’s charity, Traidcraft Exchange, to help producers in the developing world.

When hearing about the bake pack, Elizabeth Mantoor, from South Africa, who supplies fair trade sultanas, said:

“I am wishing all the best to you who are making the cakes. We depend on you for the future.”

Traidcraft head of fundraising Liza Stevens, said: “We hope lots of people will take up our challenge and enjoy the delights of a homemade cake even more, knowing that they’re helping thousands of people like Elizabeth.”

People can order a cake pack direct from Traidcraft on 0845 330 8900 or online at

Look out for our Lenten resource ‘Counting the Cost’ at from Ash Wednesday, readings, reflections and facts.

Linda Mead – Commitment for Life Programme Co-ordinator,
Mission Team, United Reformed Church
01702 315981
Commitment for Life is here to help United Reformed Churches work for a fairer world and for peace with justice, recognising that change and response starts with each one of us.

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