Laini Cassis, LIFE Environmental Program (Linking Income, Food, and the Environment) – Zambia 2015-17
There are a few seasons in Zambia: cold/dry season, hot/dry season, hot/rainy season. This is what I’ve been told over and over. But what good are these seasons?
Sunset in the village
Volunteers are equipped to facilitate a seasonal calendar activity in our communities. Creating a calendar helps the Volunteer customize workshops for target audiences about certain topics at specific times of the year. For example, a Volunteer may be more apt to have malaria awareness programs in rainy season, when the mosquito population flourishes because of the ample stagnant water for breeding. Or, a Volunteer may lead a workshop about the hazards of bush fires at the onset of dry season, when unregulated fires can quickly get out of control.
Seeking shelter from the rain on my porch with my neighbors
But, I believe there is even more to it than that. There are seasonal ailments: though prevalent all year, malaria cases spike in the rainy season. The height of farm labor overlaps with hunger season, when the family’s supply of the previous harvest is depleted. Icifuba season is the chronic cough that seems to come from the dusty winds of dry season. Even the chickens suffer from seasonal Newcastle’s.
There is always some agricultural activity happening: attending farm cooperative meetings, making ridges, buying fertilizer, buying seeds, seeding, propagating, weeding, thinning, watering, fertilizing, harvesting, shelling, skinning, drying, pounding, transporting, milling, storing, selling to the Food Reserve Agency, waiting for payment from FRA, burning field to clear old maize stalks, spending the FRA check, cutting trees down to make another field.
A field of cassava next to a field of maize. These are the two main crops grown in this area
There are seasonal sources of income: brick layers and charcoal makers work in the dry season, flavored ice packs are sold in the heat of October, brewers use surplus cassava and maize at the end of the harvest, and thieves are more likely to steal on rainy nights – the rain lulls people to sleep while drowning out any noise.
Morning mist in my compound
We live outside. The typical kitchen, latrine, and bathing shelter are individual structures built around the compound. We sleep in homes made of earth. And everyone farms, so to talk about rain – or lack thereof – is to talk about survival. But the rains present their own challenges: leaky roofs, snakes flooded out of their homes, water in all the wrong places. Less than 10% of Africa’s roads are paved; accessing the clinic, school, or market is not always feasible on mud roads in mud season.
This fruit is seasonal too. I didn’t catch the name, but look – the top appears painted, but that’s the flower
Cold, dry, hot, rainy? As far as I can see, there are no less than 365 seasons in a year. I prefer mango season, caterpillar season, flying termite season, and mushroom season. There are months when annoying goats sleep in my latrine, and two weeks in which grotesque camel spiders breed. There are from Malawi in January, and there are mornings I can see my breath in the chilly Eastern winds from the Democratic Republic of Congo in May.
Find Laini’s original article and other posts at her blog: https://zambiagrows.wordpress.com/