Kalota Cooperative from a refugee settlement in Zambia now has a source of livelihood thanks to Caritas Czech Republic
February 21, 2023 News

Kalota Cooperative from a refugee settlement in Zambia now has a source of livelihood thanks to Caritas Czech Republic

Caritas Czech Republic has been supporting refugees in Zambia since 2014. With more than 100,000 refugees living in the country’s refugee settlements, basic needs and many other resources have become inadequate, leaving these refugees struggling to find money to get by each day. Thanks to Caritas Czech Republic in Zambia, a group of refugees and Zambians called Kalota Cooperative now has a source of livelihood through a rice processing centre in Meheba Refugee settlement.  

The establishment of the Kalota Cooperative

The Kalota cooperative was established in 2013 and has a total membership of 71 people, both women and men. The members are of three different nationalities, including Angolans, Congolese and Zambian. The cooperative started by growing rice and vegetables which they sold to the mines in Solwezi district. Despite having a good business relationship with the mines, the cooperative still faced a lot of challenges that hindered its growth.

In 2020, Caritas Czech Republic built a processing centre in Meheba Refugee settlement in Zambia with the support of UNHCR as part of a project that aims at enhancing the livelihoods of refugees. After its completion, Caritas Czech Republic invited many cooperatives interested in using the processing centre for interviews and Kalota cooperative was among those that attended and passed the interviews.

The cooperative received support from Caritas Czech Republic in form of a rice processing mill, rice grader, destoner and a genset used for powering the rice processing mill. Since then, the cooperative has seen enormous growth in their business. They now have a contract to supply rice to Golden Camp Solutions (GCS), a catering company in the Lumwana mines.

Lives get transformed

“Caritas Czech Republic provided us with all the machinery we needed to run a rice processing mill, which means that we can now supply rice to our clients on a larger scale and make more money for the cooperative,” said Kaluwa Mayuma, the cooperative's counsellor.

According to Kaluwa, the group earned enough money to buy more machinery to replace worn-out equipment and to increase production capacity. The processing centre has also served as a source of employment for young refugees in Meheba Refugee settlement, and local women have not been left behind.

Lumini Mamba- Kalota CooperativeLumuni Mamba Mary in the processing centre in Meheba Refugee Settlement

Lumuni Mamba Mary is among the refugees that have been employed at the rice processing Centre. She is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo and her job is mainly to pack the rice in packaging sacks and plastics, keep the centre clean and ensure that the orders are filled on time.

“I’ve been a member of the cooperative for 4 years and I've been working at this processing centre for more than 2 years. Since I started working at the processing centre, my life has changed so much because I get a salary every month that enables me to take care of my family,” Lumuni said.

Lumuni, who can now feed and clothe her family, appreciates the support of Caritas Czech Republic and adds that it is important to continue helping refugees in the settlement because there are still many refugees that need the same support she received. 

Offering humanitarian assistance to refugees

Given the high numbers of people who flee their countries of origin due to wars, conflicts and become refugees in Zambia, the need to offer humanitarian aid will never end and Caritas Czech Republic will continue offering support to the refugee community.