Charity Spotlight – Kaloko Trust
As part of CORBIS’ mission to engage with and support the wider global health and development community, we will be beginning a series of Charity Spotlight blog posts, whereby we will share an interview with charities and organisations who undertake relevant work in the field, with a particular focus on global health. This week we are grateful to introduce the following interview with Kaloko Trust, a Brighton based charity working on various projects in rural Zambia. If you have further suggestions for charities you would love to be featured, do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please could you describe the work that Kaloko Trust undertakes, and the issues that you work on?
The mission of Kaloko Trust’s work is to relieve poverty and improve the lives of people in rural communities of Zambia. We have been working with local partners and communities in Luansobe, in the Copperbelt region of northern Zambia, since 1989. Our main aims are to improve access to sufficient food, water, health, education and income for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. All projects that we implement are done so with long-term sustainability in mind, as well as consideration for the culture and providing appropriate solutions given the context of our work. Projects introduced so far include sponsorship of children through their schooling, providing quality accommodation as an incentive for teachers to work in rural areas, introducing sources of safe water, educating young people on safe sex, and teaching people to run successful businesses in goat rearing and beekeeping. Further information about the ongoing work of our charity can be found at http://www.kalokotrust.org/our-work.
How would you describe the quality of the existing health systems in Zambia?
Despite the best efforts of the country, health systems in Zambia are still very centralised to the more urban areas and as such, are vastly inaccessible by the wider rural communities. This often means that people in rural areas very rarely get the health support that they need and are entitled to. In the areas that Kaloko works, most people have to walk very long distances to get any type of healthcare. There is no ambulance service that can be called upon in the case of serious situations. All public health facilities have very high staff turnovers, but particularly in rural areas which are faced with a negative net migration.
With a chronically underfunded Ministry of Health, Zambia’s health workers are stretched incredibly thin, and the country has less than half the recommended Human Resources for Health workforce in every category. Such a fragmented system simply means that despite the honourable efforts of health workers, the majority of the Zambian public must go without vital healthcare. The Kaloko Trust wishes to raise awareness of the chronic need for further public funding and assistance in this area, so that preventable illnesses and deaths can be avoided as far as possible.
One health-focused project that you work on is establishing and maintaining boreholes to provide safe drinking water. Please describe these.
Establishing safe water for communities is one of our key health-focused projects running currently. The scarcity of water in rural Zambia is a massive issue amongst the rural population, with water sources often being contaminated with bacteria and drying up entirely in the warmer seasons, leaving communities very far away from any source of potable water. As a means of providing safe drinking water, the Kaloko Trust builds boreholes in locations that are central to the communities they will benefit. This drastically reduces walking times to obtain water and allows families to get on with their lives, particularly girls who are often given the task of fetching water for the whole family which can prevent them from attending school. The access to clean drinking water drastically reduces the occurrence of diarrheal diseases and morbidity from exposure to unsafe water, so this is arguably one of our most important projects.
Once set up, competent local people are elected into a Water and Sanitation Committee, who receive training to become responsible for the ongoing maintenance and repair of the borehole. They receive a fund that can be accessed to buy the tools and equipment necessary for repairs.
You use peer-education as a tool to reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS. How do you go about delivering that education?
At present, a significant proportion of young people in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia do not have a comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS transmission, engage in sexual intercourse before they attain 18 years and engage in high-risk sex. Although there is some basic information available locally on HIV/AIDS, it is not designed for youths. Many young people do not recognise the potential consequences of ignoring this threat, nor how they might adapt their behaviour and improve their life chances.
The peer education that Kaloko Trust delivers to address such issues is based on the reality that many people make changes not only based on what they know, but on the opinions and actions of their close, trusted peers. Peer educators can communicate and understand in a way that is difficult for well-intentioned adults to achieve, and they also serve as role models for change. School-going youths between the ages of 10 and 16 years receive peer-led training courses, which provide the information and life skills they need to make informed choices about their future. The approach is highly interactive, focusing on life-skills training specifically tailored towards topics of teen pregnancy reduction, HIV/AIDS prevention, substance abuse and rape. We deliver this programme to children starting at 10 years of age at various schools in the Luansobe area. In addition, Kaloko Trust distributes condoms to teens and adults through health centres and bathrooms in market areas, bars and other appropriate locations. Kaloko staff also aim to integrate HIV/AIDS awareness-raising sessions throughout its community engagement activities across its wider programme of work.
To what extent are local people included in the running and decision making surrounding your projects?
Local people are almost entirely in charge –Kaloko Trust Zambia is an entirely Zambian-led independent organisation with its own board, comprised of locals to Zambia, with many actually being from the communities that we serve. Kaloko Trust UK acts in a primarily supportive capacity, such as assisting in fundraising, guidance and general oversight of projects. At the community level, locals are able to engage with the local team to express their requirements and priorities, to inform Kaloko Trust’s activities. The local perspective is invaluable in ensuring that the real needs of the people are met. In short, the majority of Kaloko’s work revolves around passing the responsibility over to local people as far as possible, in order to ensure a level of independence for the communities.
What changes have been seen in the contexts that you work in over the decades that Kaloko Trust has been in action?
Since the launch of Kaloko Trust in 1989, we have seen improvements in both the health services and the education services in the Luansobe area of Zambia. Our water projects aiming to improve access to the provision of safe water have improved the health of the local people, reducing the diarrhoea illnesses, and morbidity, that result from a lack of choice around drinking dirty water. It cannot be overstated how important water is to human health.
The public have also seen an increase in skills acquisition, including maintenance of boreholes, beekeeping and goat rearing, meaning that there are now people in each area who are fully capable of ensuring the ongoing progress of these endeavours.
The result of our agricultural projects is that lots of families have seen an increase in household income. This has been particularly significant for the many families where grandparents have been left to care for grandchildren orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.
Despite all of the progress made, it is important to note that Kaloko’s efforts are unfortunately just a drop in the ocean in terms of what is truly needed. Progress, although positive, remains slow – which is why it is so important that Kaloko supports and supplements the Zambian government’s work to improve the situation for those living in rural areas of the country. http://www.who.int/workforcealliance/countries/zmb/en/
This blog post was a collaboration between Serena Bailey, Director of Engagement for CORBIS and Rachel Morrison representing Kaloko Trust. If you are a student at the University of Sussex, Brighton and Sussex Medical School or Institute of Development Studies and would be interested in getting involved in our multi-disciplinary ‘Social Justice, Health and Human Rights’ Research Stream, get in touch with us at email@example.com.