Project Sheluka

Many Lozi-speaking people of Zambia’s Western Province live in traditional villages, between 100 and 300 individuals, along the vast Barotse Floodplain.  Villages are situated along the edge of the floodplain and the adjacent forest.  Together villagers work to secure resources to live with environmental conditions dictated by annual flooding of the Zambezi River.  As climate conditions slowly change annual floods are less predictable forcing the Lozi Villagers to rely more on the meager resources of the forest for survival.  Regardless of weather conditions traditional Lozi villages find fresh water by digging into the underlying sand.  These open pits (typically two meters in diameter and dug to the water table, two to four meters below the surface) are the sole-source of water for the villages for most of the year.  All water for drinking, cooking, bathing, watering gardens (vegetables) and stock is dipped from the bottom of a hand-dug pit.  This has been the way of life as far as their history can be remembered.

In 2019 a retired US National Park Service hydrologist visited Kalenge Village on the Matebele Plain (a south-western portion of the Barotse Floodplain) and installed five sand-point wells and hand pumps as a proof-of-concept test.  It was determined that these simple tools (a sand-point is a screened section of well casing terminated by a steel cone driven into the ground by well casing) can be easily installed to provide clean reliable water for a traditional village. These wells remain in daily use over a year later.

Project Sheluka, Inc. was established as a 501(c)(3) entity after proof-of-concept was successful.  After consultation with our Zambian hydrologist team member we decided to focus our initial efforts on the Matebele Plain — a floodplain without a permanent stream stretching 100 km westward to the border with Angola.  The Matebele Plain is difficult to reach, and thus its residents are the last to receive help by either their government or NGOs.  These are the people most in need of reliable clean water so these will be the people we serve first.

The David D. Dodge Foundation provided a substantial grant to Project Sheluka at a time when support is most needed.  With this grant we are now ready to build pumps and assemble sand-points in a workshop in Mongu Zambia.  This puts Project Sheluka in position to begin installation of sand-point wells and pumps in June 2021.  It is our goal to install 110 wells and pumps for the 80 villages identified during our Scouting Expedition during July 2020, by October 2021.  Once our work on the Matebele Plain is complete we will turn our attention to the scores of traditional Lozi villages dotting the edge of the Barotse Floodplain. 

We would like to express our deepest appreciation to the David D. Dodge Foundation during this critical moment in our endeavour. To learn more about our work, please visit our website

Many Lozi-speaking people of Zambia’s Western Province live in traditional villages, between 100 and 300 individuals, along the vast Barotse Floodplain. Villages are situated along the edge of the floodplain and the adjacent forest. Together villagers work to secure resources to live with environmental conditions dictated by annual flooding of the Zambezi River. As climate conditions slowly change annual floods are less predictable forcing the Lozi Villagers to rely more on the meager resources of the forest for survival. Regardless of weather conditions traditional Lozi villages find fresh water by digging into the underlying sand. These open pits (typically two meters in diameter and dug to the water table, two to four meters below the surface) are the sole-source of water for the villages for most of the year. All water for drinking, cooking, bathing, watering gardens (vegetables) and stock is dipped from the bottom of a hand-dug pit. This has been the way of life as far as their history can be remembered.

In 2019 a retired US National Park Service hydrologist visited Kalenge Village on the Matebele Plain (a south-western portion of the Barotse Floodplain) and installed five sand-point wells and hand pumps as a proof-of-concept test. It was determined that these simple tools (a sand-point is a screened section of well casing terminated by a steel cone driven into the ground by well casing) can be easily installed to provide clean reliable water for a traditional village. These wells remain in daily use over a year later.

Project Sheluka, Inc. was established as a 501(c)(3) entity after proof-of-concept was successful. After consultation with our Zambian hydrologist team member we decided to focus our initial efforts on the Matebele Plain — a floodplain without a permanent stream stretching 100 km westward to the border with Angola. The Matebele Plain is difficult to reach, and thus its residents are the last to receive help by either their government or NGOs. These are the people most in need of reliable clean water so these will be the people we serve first.

The David D. Dodge Foundation provided a substantial grant to Project Sheluka at a time when support is most needed. With this grant we are now ready to build pumps and assemble sand-points in a workshop in Mongu Zambia. This puts Project Sheluka in position to begin installation of sand-point wells and pumps in June 2021. It is our goal to install 110 wells and pumps for the 80 villages identified during our Scouting Expedition during July 2020, by October 2021. Once our work on the Matebele Plain is complete we will turn our attention to the scores of traditional Lozi villages dotting the edge of the Barotse Floodplain.

We would like to express our deepest appreciation to the David D. Dodge Foundation during this critical moment in our endeavor. To learn more about our work, please visit our website ProjectSheluka.org