Poaching and deforestation threaten Zambia’s main national park. Find out how a farming project addresses the underlying issues, helping families take up goat rearing and horticulture.

Kafue National Park is Zambia's oldest and largest national park. It covers 22,400 km2: roughly the size of New Jersey State. The effects of poaching and deforestation are clear to see: degraded landscapes and a dramatic drop in the number of animals. The underlying cause is high levels of food insecurity and poverty.

Alice Muleya, lead farmer in her cluster, and her children

Moving away from hunting, charcoal and rainfed crops

For the communities which border the park, hunting and charcoal burning have been the main ways to earn money. Agriculture is not the main activity and is traditionally seen as women's work. The area is mountainous and rocky, and rainfall is irregular, but most local farmers depend on rain as their main source of water.

Solidaridad and the UNDP are implementing a farming project to address these issues. Building financial security is the fastest way to control poaching and deforestation. That's why 500 local families are being encouraged to take up goat rearing as an alternative to poaching, and to use environmental stoves to reduce deforestation.

Watch as the goats go off to graze for the day 

A new borehole for irrigation

The project has also helped the community dig a borehole for organic vegetable production, another source of income. One of the farmers in the project, Alice Muleya, believes agriculture offers an opportunity to achieve better livelihoods than poaching or charcoal burning. And that it should be embraced by both men and women.

Muleya is a 27-year-old mother of four and has been with the project since the start. She is the lead farmer within her cluster: all of the cluster's 27 goats are kept at her farm. Before joining the programme, Alice only grew rain-fed maize, which was often just enough to feed the family, while her husband used to burn charcoal to sell. 

Alice, her youngest daughter and their puppy

Training in crop diversification

Both now concentrate on farming. Through the project's training programme, they have learnt about crop diversification. Last season, they grew soya beans, pumpkins, cowpeas, beans and cassava as well as maize. Their family is now more food secure.

As for livestock, Alice is rearing hens, doves and guinea fowl as well as goats. In September 2019, the goats had eight kids. She plans to increase her stock to 120 animals and birds, and to add cattle. A market is readily available in the nearby district town.

>Read more about Solidaridad's work in Southern Africa