When I first arrived at my site, it happened to be during the time of a corridor disease outbreak. My first day, my family had 23 cattle, two months later we had none left. In the Tonga culture, cows are commodity and a necessity. A family that has cattle has opportunity, status and savings. That means that when my family lost all of their cattle, they lost all of their savings and had to rely on the generosity of outside community members in order to reap their maize field's last year. This is not a story special to my family, but nearly every family in my village, or 72 households directly. Now the farmers could just go any buy new cattle if they have other assets but most do not. And until their is an effective way to treat or prevent the disease, most would be wasting their money. There is a medicine to treat the disease, however to most people in my community it is completely unaffordable, especially when you have many cows. Since the treatment remains out of reach to most people, the most effective way to address the disease is to build a community shared dip tank. This is essentially a medicinal pool that kills off ticks, lice, and other insects. As corridor disease is tick-born, a dip tank will serve to protect the cattle in three villages and some surrounding settlements. This adds up to hundreds of households. My community has already begun the preliminary process. Working in conjunction with the Zambian Department of Livestock, a location has been surveyed and approved. The location is in accordance with the guidelines - near water, but away from gardens and houses, etc. Additionally, a builder has been identified and agreements have been reached. Finally, a committee has been elected to oversee the building process and post-construction management. The immediate objective of this project is to protect the cattle in the area. However, the long-term goal of this project is to stabilize familial assets and agricultural based businesses.
The community made plans to build a dip tank many years ago, but has not had a way to fund it. As I have said, this disease has been a problem for a number of years. The community has already designated a location for the dip tank. This is located near a water source and on the opposite side of the village to the nearby dip tank. There are farmers in settlements far away and this would help to protect their cattle as well. The location has already been approved by the Zambian department of livestock and follows all regulation requirements. Additionally, the community has created a committee to oversee the construction and management of the tank. This committee is composed of cattle herders and farmers from the village. We are working together to create a set of bylaws for both the functioning of the dip tank and the roles of the committee members. The community is also going to be responsible for building the dip tank but will be under the guidance of a hired professional builder. The local people have shown me that they can manage the work, as they helped me to complete the siphon system and furrow at the local dam. There are a number of builders in the area who have agreed to help with the construction. The community is also responsible for many of the building materials: bricks, pit sand, river sand, etc. When I told the community I might be able to help them raise money for a dip tank, they started building bricks to prepare. During the hot season of 2018, over a year ago, my community built 12,000 bricks so they could be ready when the day came.
As mentioned before, the community has already organized a committee to oversee the programs at the dip tank. By the time the building is completed, the committee will have a set of by-laws to help them maintain the tank. These by-laws have been written by the community of cattle farmers in collaboration with the Zambian department of livestock. They attended a committee meeting to share experience on how to maintain. They have also identified the farmers that will be using this dip tank and have made a collective group. This group has helped the committee with certain parts of the by-laws, particularly with regards to the fees required to use it. The by-laws will guide the committee to properly manage the dip tank. If the committee is failing to do so, there is a section of the by-laws dedicated to the role of the committee. This gives the headman and village committee the authority to replace members of the dip tank committee to ensure proper management. The collective of farmers will be responsible for paying monthly fees to pay for the dip (the medication). If the tank structure is in need of repair (this is written in the by-laws) it is the responsibility of the collective to pay for the repairs.