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Fish pool or playing field? Both!

When it comes to improving their quality of life, the villagers of Mahube are prepared to pitch in with alacrity and enthusiasm. The target: clean drinking water, a balanced diet, environmental education and reforestation. Since terre des hommes, with the help of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, began a project in the small village (approx. 1000 inhabitants) near the capital city of Mozambique, the men and women of the village have rolled their sleeves up to help. In an area plagued by droughts, water tanks need to be built to collect rainwater. And time is running out, because the rainy season is about to start. Two water tanks have already been built - one of these is located right next to the school, and has a capacity for up to 80,000 litres of water. A second tank, which will be used for irrigating the fields, can store up to 60,000 litres. A third is in planning.

Ecological farming
The women and children also have a part to play. They’re responsible for planting crops in the vegetable garden, according to so-called permaculture criteria. This is a sustainable concept based on natural ecosystems. Part of the concept involves juxtaposing varieties which mutually benefit each other. Chemical fertilisers are hardly needed when plants are combined in this manner, which in turn puts less strain on the soil. As it is, the soil is already under strain here from the dry conditions and the use of too much fertiliser in the past. But up to now, the villagers in Mahube hardly had any other choice. Crops worsened year after year, and less and less rain fell. To harvest sufficient to feed all the families in the village, they tried to boost their yield by using fertilisers. Despite the fact the Mahube is only 40km from the capital, the villagers live predominantly from their sparse agriculture. Few of them have enjoyed a good education. On top of all this, Mahube is a resettlement. In other words, the people who once lived here were forced to leave during the civil war. Once the civil war was over, people started to resettle the village, with many strangers coming together. This project is therefore also designed to promote a community spirit in the village, which seems to be working well. That’s due to Ali, an expert in permaculture, who knows just how to spark excitement for the project in the heart of the men, women and children. Though sometimes it takes a second attempt to do so.

Playing field versus fish pool
To ensure the children receive a balanced diet, Ali wanted to build a fish pool together with the men of the village. But the first question confronting them was - where to put the tanks? The best place seemed to be the children’s playing field, as the ground there seemed most adequate for the purpose. So Ali asked the children whether he could build a fish pool on their playing field. It would be for their own good, as the fish would supply them with valuable protein. But the children were of a different opinion. No tanks on their playing field! The verdict was unanimous. So they had to find a different solution. Ali set off with the children to find an alternative site for their playing field. His proposal: if the children let him build a fish pool on their playing field, he would help the children make a new playing field. The children agreed. The fish tanks are now in place, and the new playing field is under construction.