Project Report: The Mill
Allow the people of Mbayi to be more effective with their time and provide the people of Mbayi with a business.
As mentioned in the last post (Project Report: Maize Crop), nshima is fundamental to the diet of the people in Mbayi (and most of Zambia). Nshima is made from mealie-meal (corn flour), which is produced by grinding dried maize (corn). Unfortunately, the nearest grinding mill is located in the town of Chambishi, which is a two and a half hour walk (one way!) from Mbayi. The people of Mbayi must complete this walk often, while carrying heavy bags of maize and mealie-meal.
In April 2011, the Streetsville Rotary Club donated $2,000 to fund the purchase of a hummer mill for the village. This created two substantial benefits: (a) the people of Mbayi could use their time much more effectively—allowing them to be more productive in other ways—and (b) it provided them with a business that enables them (at minimum) to pay for the cost of maintaining the mill and possibly generate additional revenue in the longer term.
A building was constructed and the mill was installed in July. Two operators were selected, given training and then responsibility for ongoing mill operation and maintenance.
Current State of Affairs
The mill has been in Mbayi for one year and operations are running smoothly. The two operators, Mr. Musonda and Mr. Bubala, have proven their ability to run the mill in a responsible and efficient manner. Income from the mill—Mbayi is now the closest mill for the surrounding area —has been sufficient to pay for the diesel and occasional maintenance. Taking the long view (which is essential for business) is not something that people in Mbayi are accustomed to. However, this project is another example of how the villagers—given the right resources, education, and training—are capable of great things.
The Mill Project has been a huge success. Thanks to the generous donation from the Streetsville Rotary Club the people of Mbayi are empowered with a valuble strategic and sustainable resource. The mill brought a large responsibility to the village: without proper care the mechanical equipment could rapidly fall into a state of disrepair. The villagers have demonstrated their willingness and capability to take on this responsibility.