These two articles on Afrigator Zambia caught my attention.
1) Chief Sandwe appeals for help on roads, water By Christopher Miti in Chipata Thursday August 30, 2007 [04:00] CHIEF Sandwe of the Nsenga people in Petauke District has appealed to Msanzala Member of Parliament Peter Daka to help address the problem of roads and water in the area. In an interview, chief Sandwe said his area had a lot of problems that needed to be addressed by the government….
2) Sinazongwe hunger could worsen - chief Mweemba by Tovin Ngombe in Sinazongwe Thursday August 30, 2007 [04:00] SENIOR chief Mweemba of the Tonga people in Southern Province has said the hunger situation in Sinazongwe District could worsen next month if the government does not send relief food….
Chief Mweemba said Kafwambila, Siampondo, Muuka, Denganza, and Kanchindu were the most affected areas. Chief Mweemba said people living in Siameja had no land to cultivate on because the area was too rocky. Source Afrigator Zambia.
Reflecting on what factors determine the choice of population locations in Zambia, I found myself musing over our history. There are several diverse population groupings across Zambia, with a dormant tribe in each region, the Lozi in the west, the Tonga in the south, Ngoni in the east, and the Bemba in the north. The ancestors of these major ethnic groups settled the regions they dominate in the 18th century with initial intentions to;
i) Escape other warring tribes
ii) Acquire virgin land.
iii) Establish their own traditional administrative system consistent with their custom.
Since then population growth, interaction with other cultures, adoption of western values, systems of governance and land administration, advances in education, technology, agriculture and information sharing have changed the dynamics. Now, more than 80% of the Zambian population lives, in or near urban cities. Why then do some still choose to live in areas that are too remote - cut off from easy reach of public service infrastructure, that in some cases, areas that can no longer sustain safe human habitation.
Resettling people from some of these areas that are too remote, to other safe and available locations closer to public infrastructure would make it easier for government to provide basic services and emergency interventions when needed. It would also enhance national development by leveraging governments costs for providing basic universal services such education, medical, agricultural etc to large concentrations of population vs. remote, diverse and sparsely distributed populations. For example Govt recently allocated ZK 24bn to build two high Schools in the eastern province. In Chama there was debate among two remote population groups (Mangwere and Manga) on where to build the schools, in the end the population in Manga won the debate, they argued that Mangwere is more remote and is inaccessible during the rainy season (http://maravi.blogspot.com/2007/08/eprovince-gets-k24bn-for-construction.html). The impact of this decision on the population in Mangwere is continued isolation and further marginalization.
Would you support a move by the Zambian government to resettle people from locations that are too remote, whose only valid reason for staying there is their sentimental attachment to their traditional land against constant threats of starvation caused by non arable lands, constant disease, lack of water, medical and education facilities?