Poverty is often viewed as just a lack of income or capital, therefore increasing money is too often seen as the best solution. However, like with most of life’s issues, there is never one single 'pill' that can tackle everyone’s individual situation.

Links International has always viewed poverty as a multidimensional issue, with the lack of capital being one of many elements involved. Therefore, we believe that more holistic approaches are required to find solutions as we work together with our different partners.

In Zambia, Sam Walker, has been finding out how Links' multiple approaches to tackling poverty are coming together with our partners, Shiloh Hands of Hope, and their community programmes and projects.

Shiloh Hands of Hope have known Jonas, a headman, father and grandfather, for many years before they partnered with Links. When Shiloh first met Jonas he was known as an often-drunk headman and his remote rural community in the Bowe area, over which he has responsibility, was largely unproductive and underdeveloped. Jonas was invited by Shiloh to a Links' Community Healthcare (CHC) training visit and he started to become interested in the health issues of not only his own household but also his community. He was given a water filter for his household and neighbours that, still to this day, he takes great care of, offering clean water to his community. At present, Jonas is no longer known as the often-drunk headman, but the headman who often-teaches the community about health issues.

See above Jonas, the CHC volunteer, in full swing explaining to his village the importance of Hygiene and Sanitation, during a Sports and Health Outreach Programme. Through a donor, Links has been providing football kits for these types of outreach programmes, which provide an effective opportunity for community health and leadership teaching.

Since 2014 Jonas has also attended some of the Links' Leadership Training and the impact of this learning is visible to others. One Bowe villager stated, 'Before we used to be unproductive due to bad leadership and lack of vision… Now we are more productive.’

Jonas always had access to land, but didn't get much return from it. He applied about a year ago for a MED loan to assist him to expand his onion farming business. After three cycles of loans, which he has faithful repaid, Jonas seems to have become a bit of an expert in onions! He showed me his very organised nurseries and then his larger field containing over 9,000 onions almost ready for harvest (see below). Jonas says he regularly employs one labourer to assist him and then up to three to four seasonal labourers. It's not just access to capital that has allowed this productivity and employment; Jonas also has access to the community tread pump to improve irrigation, which was provided by Links to be shared amongst farmers across Bowe's communities.”

It is wonderful to see in Jonas’ example how the combination of these different approaches is improving health, providing employment and giving dignity through empowerment to some of the poorest communities in Zambia. It reinforces our drive to search and listen for better holistic and sustainable approaches that provide a mixture of local solutions to tackle the complexities of poverty.