The Mfuwe Intervention, Setting the Stage for Change
Mfuwe, located in Eastern Zambia, is a poor rural area in the East of Zambia. Because of its suitable habitat, a large number of dangerous snake species live here and there are lots of encounters. To give an indication: in 2020 the HHiSS snake removers in Zambia have saved 492 snakes by removing them from peoples homes and work places. This was done in 6 locations in Zambia. In Mfuwe alone, 288 of these 492 snakes were saved. That is almost 60%! In addition, 24 different species were caught in Mfuwe, of which 6 can give a bite that requires medical treatment.
Human-snake conflicts are high and this leads to many snakebite incidences and casualties. Due to people knowing little about snakes, every snake usually gets killed on sight, even the harmless ones. And 71 out of Zambia’s 99 snake species are harmless!
Based on National and Provincial data from the Zambian Ministry of Health, on registered snakebites in Zambia, as well as on data from the research conducted by Health Action International in other Provinces, we estimate that the number of snakebites in the wider Mfuwe area to be around 1,000. As the local clinic is incapable to adequately treat snakebites, and a the nearest proper Provincial Hospital being 120 km away, we estimate that the number of deaths from snakebites are close to a hundred per year.
HHiSS wants to implement a project which aims to:
Sensitise the community about snake safety. As part of the sensitisation, brochures, both in English and in the local language (Chewa) will be handed out and posters will be provided for public places.
Train people (game rangers and selected people in the communities) in snake handling so they can remove problematic snakes for others and form a safer alternative to killing snakes. We will also provide snake handling equipment.
Train health professionals in the area in snakebite treatment.
Give first aid in snakebite training to anyone interested in the area, including staff at the various lodges. This may likely be done in combination with a general first aid training by First Aid Africa.
Before and after the interventions, HHiSS will conduct an assessment of the number of snake encounters, killed snakes, snakebites, casualties etc. By comparing the numbers before and after, we can assess the impact of the activities, can inform future interventions elsewhere in Zambia, as well as policy decisions.
We are convinced that sensitisation is the key intervention in a country like Zambia, where the costs for adequate snakebite treatment is beyond reach. In addition, we are convinced that less snakes will be killed when people know of other ways in which to co-exist with snakes.
Funds for the Mfuwe project will be raised via Save the Snakes, an NGO based in the United States of America. You can find the platform here: Mfuwe project
However, if you want to support this project from Zambia, you can make a direct donation via our bank account or airtel money number (see the support tab)