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New Solutions for Swaziland Farmers

Climate change has hit Bantu Mabaso’s homeland hard. Traditional farming communities in Swaziland’s Lowveld have been so drought stricken that their way of life is imperiled; 66 percent of the nation’s rural population now relies on food aid from the World Food Program, according to a 2016 All Africa report.

Bantu (Waterford Kamhlaba UWC, Bates ’18) is already doing something about that. Last summer she carried out a Davis Project for Peace that built a learning center for new farming practices in Phalala, an isolated Lowveld community that has long depended on rainfall for its maize crops. She built the initiative into the Phalala Community Empowerment for Food Security, which last fall and winter was raising money through the crowdfunding site youcaring.com to install a solar-powered water pump in the community.

“We intend to expand into other rural communities that face similar challenges,” Bantu says. “I would like to continue to be involved in achieving food security in Swaziland by empowering farmers to increase their yields in nutrient-rich food, decrease ecological footprint from farming activities, and alleviate poverty by creating new jobs and long-term economic growth.” A Clinton Global Initiative commitment-maker and one of 100 delegates chosen to attend the 2016 Brightest Young Minds Summit in Johannesburg, Bantu is just as engaged on the Bates campus. She’s president of the Africana Club, director of the college’s annual Inside Africa Fashion and Cultural Showcase, a fellow of the Office of Intercultural Education, and community liaison for the Bates Caribbean Students Association.

“My UWC experience has shown me that bringing people together to take effective action and generate solutions can be a powerful, effective resource for change,” Bantu says. “With these in place, there is no limit to what can be achieved.”