Zambia’s Warming Relationship with Israel

Zambia’s warming relations with Israel has lead to an upswing in cooperation between the two countries. The change finds Israelis are traveling to Zambia to assist with medical, economic, agricultural, technological and ecological challenges.

Starting in 2016 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to a mini-African summit in Uganda, Israel have been enhancing its relationship with multiple African nations, including Zambia. In addition to bilateral cooperation in fields such as agriculture, water management, renewable energy, medicine and sustainable development the two nations are collaborating on fighting terror by utilising new technologies and sharing intelligence, specificallyin the sphere of cyber-security.

Netanyahu spoke at the summit, saying “I believe in Africa, I believe in your people. We want a better future for you, After many years, I can equivocally say [that] Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming to Israel and I believe this is a turning point in Israel’s efforts to work with Africa. We are eager to work with you by learning from capacities we have strongly built in different sectors.….we are glad that we shall work with you.”

Some recent Israel-Zambia news includes the following:

Cholera Outbreak

Zambia has been battling a cholera outbreak since October of 2017. Following a visit to Zambia by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel became the first country to send aid to help Zambia deal with the crisis. The mission included doctors, nurses and medical technicians from Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan. The team arrived in Zambia in January 2018 with the goal of diagnosing and treating cholera victims. Cholera infection is manifested by uncontrolled, watery diarrhea which can lead to dehydration and death within a matter of hours after the initial symptoms appear.

Together with the medical staff, the mission included an Israeli water engineer who has been testing water sources in an effort to identify the cause of the outbreak. The engineer was able to identify the contaminated water wells which are located in a neighborhood in the capital city, Lusaka. Those wells are now known to be the source of the outbreak.

Schools churches, the main market place and other public areas in the capital city of Lusaka have been closed in an effort to stem the spread of the disease. This has led to riots because, as Dr. Elhanan Bar On, director of Sheba’s Israel Center for Disaster medicine and Humanitarian Response said “Closing down the market is causing a major economic problem, both on the macro level and definitely [on the micro level]. Farmers cannot market their produce, the traders in the market are basically unemployed.”

Dr. Yitzhak Kreiss, Sheba’s director general, said that the center was hoping to help as many people as possible. “The innovative medical expertise and tactics employed by our experts are today being dedicated to helping the people of Zambia and saving as many lives as possible from the tragic cholera outbreak. Sheba Medical Center’s goal, which echoes the ethos of Israel, is to save lives and make a positive global impact.”

Agrostudies

The Agrostudies organization has welcomed Zambian students to Israel where they observe the high-tech methods that Israeli farmers employ to grow produce in an area with minimal water resources. Through internships with Agrostudies, students receive information about the latest agricultural techniques and opportunities to learn by doing.

The Zambian students join other participants from around the world.to visit farms across Israel and study their farming methods. Each participant receives hand-s on  exposure to the most advanced agricultural methods which s/he can then take back to his/her native country.

The students come for varying periods of time. They attend classes that are taught once a week and receive special tutoring from individual tutors who accompany them throughout their internship. The tutors are assigned based on the participant’s specialized area of study.

Innovation Africa

Innovation:Africa operates in many African nations. The project may soon come to Zambia.

Innovation:Africa employs problem-solving techniques to bring Israeli solutions and know-how to rural African villages. Activities focus on three main areas:

  1. Using solar energy to pump clean water.
  2. Using solar energy to provide medical clinics, schools and orphanages with light and refrigeration to store vaccines and medicines.
  3. Teaching farmers how to use drip irrigation in an effort to bring food security to remote villages.

At present, projects operate in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda and Malawi. To date the organization has completed over 140 projects that provide clean water, food, light and proper medical care to over 1 million Africans in rural villages and towns.

One of Innovation:Africa’s most valued projects involves helping African villagers to use solar-powered water pumps to access water from aquifers that are located below the surface. The solar-powered water pumping systems tap into underground water reserves so the farmers can pump the water into large tanks and distribute it throughout a village and activate the drip irrigation process. In this way, farmers who otherwise would not have been able to farm can work and provide food for their families as well as produce for the local markets.

Through the solar electricity programs Innovation:Africa has facilitated the immunization of more than 350,000 children for diseases like tetanus, tuberculosis, diphtheria and measles. Overall, Innovation:Africa’s projects have helped over 1 million people throughout Africa.

IsraAID

Another organization which could soon expand activities into Zambia is IsraAID. IsraAID is best known for its work with refugees who flee their homes and cross the Mediterranean in the hope of finding a better home in Europe.

IsraAID also has programs running in Africa. One of the newest involves IsraAID’s collaboration with Kenya (famine relief) and the new nation of South Sudan (supporting a rape victim shelter).  Israid’s program in the Turkana region of Kenya supports international efforts in famine relief through the distribution of emergency food to hospitals and local communities. IsraAID is also distributing LLTN mosquito nets in order to help fight malaria.

In South Sudan the IsraAID delegation aims to facilitate the support, rehabilitatation, and protection of young girls who have been the subject of, or are at-risk of violence, rape, and sexual abuse.

There are multiple organizations that provide disaster relief but IsraAID is one of the only organizations that stays in an disaster area, well after the initial shock of the disaster passes and the needs are still dire but not critical.

Israel and Zambia know that their cooperation goes beyond online casinos fun and games. The two countries look forward to continued collaborations, including economic investments.

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