Belinda Hodge, Chief executive at the Livingstone Initiative, writes about why they are committed to making their projects as sustainable as possible through genuine partnerships, collaboration and community engagement.
For any project to be worthwhile, the Livingstone Initiative has always believed they need to be sustainable. We take the view that this can be best achieved through collaboration, partnerships and community engagement and this is at the forefront of our work in Zambia.
We talk to as many people as we can, we network, we work in public-private partnerships and it is by working together that we have been able to achieve far more than we ever could on our own. There is so much willingness out there and so much of what we do has been developed through chance conversation.
When a good idea crops up, we set out to find a key respected member of the community, sit down with them and discuss it.
We like to sow a seed, which the community we are working together with can nurture and sustain, so it is very important to us to make sure that everything we do is something that is wanted and needed on the ground.
For example, our Livingstone Zambia-Scotland Medical Exchange was born as a result of a chance conversation many years ago with an American volunteer nurse. This led us to set up a programme whereby, with the help of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Glasgow, we brought over a junior doctor for a clinical attachment in Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) medicine.
Dr Alex Malambo’s 3-month observership and study was such a success that he is being sponsored by the Zambian Government to undertake 5-years post-graduate ENT surgical training in Nairobi. He finishes in October and will return to the new ENT clinic in Livingstone, where he works when on leave from his studies.
For us, we are delighted to have helped the hospital to realise its dream of providing ENT treatment to the community.
Another of our projects is helping to build a future for vulnerable young girls in a very remote, region of north-eastern Zambia. In partnership with the Anglican Children’s Programme Zambia, we are assisting the community of Chama District to build its first secondary school for girls.
Chama is over 1100 km from Lusaka – too far for many NGOs. There is a prevalence of early pregnancies and child marriage and young girls have little or no access to education beyond basic primary school.
This much-needed school has huge support from the local community, as well as from the district, provincial and national governments. This emphasis on collaboration will help ensure that this project brings lasting benefit to the community.
The villagers are making all the bricks and providing volunteer labour, local suppliers are often giving 2-for-1 discounts and the local Chief has donated 750 hectares of agricultural land to the school to help its sustainability. Girls will follow the national curriculum and also learn how to grow and harvest crops, giving them life skills for when they leave school.
If you would like to help or find further information, please visit www.livingstoneinitiative.org