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‘Solar Dollars’ - A Sustainable Form of Wealth

Victoria Falls: Communities in Hwange District are benefiting from a project that captures solar energy, an inexhaustible form of energy used in a productive and sustainable way that does not damage the life support system or endanger humankind.

The ‘solar dollar’ project is being spearheaded by Africa Centre for Holistic Management, a non-governmental organization implementing a land restoration and natural water sources project in the Hwange Communal Lands.

Mr Huggins Matanga, the Director for Africa Centre for Holistic Management says the solar dollar concept is based on deriving income from human creativity, labour and other constant sources of energy. He adds that it is only when soils are managed on a sustained basis that the money earned from plants and animals can support the variety of life on earth.

“The solar dollar concept is the panacea to the short term and environmentally harmful sources of income such as petroleum products and mining. These sources of income are good for the country while they last but may easily get used up,” says Mr Matanga.

Under the concept, 10 communities in the Hwange Communal Lands are working with the Africa Centre for Holistic Management using livestock to heal degraded land and natural water sources which will benefit them now and for generations to come.

Speaking at the just ended Hwange Agricultural show, Ms Gertrude Pswarayi, the Communications and Outreach Manager for Africa Centre for Holistic Management said the nation can benefit from using livestock as a means of tapping into the solar energy and ensuring that we capture as much of it as possible through crop and forage.

Ms Pswarayi said for people to understand the solar dollar concept they needed to appreciate the role played by livestock in ensuring that there is increased ground cover.

“We bunch livestock together to form a large herd that mimics the role that wild animals used to play long back. Their hooves break the soil crust and allow soil to absorb more water. They compact soil which encourages better seed to soil contact resulting in better seed germination. Bunched livestock also help to achieve litter cover by returning standing grass plant cover material to the soil surface through trampling. They also improve soil quality with dung and urine and their grazing which is timed to prevent overgrazing of plants keeps perennial grasses healthy thereby minimizing the need to burn and expose soil,” explained Ms Pswarayi.

Mr. Elias Ncube, the Training Manager for Africa Centre for Holistic Management said bare ground is resulting in the nation failing to capitalize on solar energy. He said burning and wondering livestock cause bare ground while soil cover means water.

“Bare land is of no economic benefit to any community. If we manage our soils on a sustainable basis we will earn money from crops and forage. It is this money that we refer to as solar dollars. When the land is covered our boreholes will not dry, rivers will not silt, livestock, wildlife and human beings will have enough food and water and overall we will benefit economically from a well managed ecosystem,” explained Mr. Ncube

Mr. Ncube said communities in Hwange Communal Lands are already benefiting from solar dollars. He said their livelihoods have improved as a result of their efforts to heal degraded land and natural water sources.

“Once communities have managed to restore their land, their livestock will have plenty of food to eat which results in them getting money from the sale of the livestock.

“Once the trees and natural resources are restored, the communities can benefit from tourism as people will visit to see the natural environment with animals in their natural habitat.

“At the same time, the communities will have better yields from their fields and kick away hunger and poverty. So that is the solar dollar concept we are talking about,” said Mr. Ncube.

Ms Pswarayi said her organization is empowering communities to improve their lives and that of the future generations through training that utilizes livestock to heal degraded land and natural water sources.

She said understanding the value of solar dollars will help the nation to realize that any person who is growing least two blades of grass where only one grew before is contributing enormously towards the growth of the nation.

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