Sunday, September 2, 2007

Factors of Zambia's Settlement decisions

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?

4 comments:

Cho said...

Interesting blog!
I'll link you to the New Zambia page!

I think you raise a very interest point. One of the things that constantly strikes me when I travel to my village in Luapula whenever I am in Zambia is how sparsely populated the areas are. Its certainly does make the delivery of services that much more challenging.

Perhaps ICT is the way forward? It may just bridge the gap I think. If we can improve information in rural areas then we could do a lot in eliminating poverty. See the paper cited at New Zambia on the Indian experience in this area:

http://zambian-economist.blogspot.com/2007/08/dialling-out-poverty.html

Kashikulu said...

Cho-

Thank you for linking this blog to New Zambia, your wonderful blog was actually instrumental in the birth of this blog- keep up the good work!

I agree with you to a degree; however ICT (Information Communications Technology) simply provides a medium to rely information from pint A to point B, this is indeed important; however information must be both useful and relevant to satisfy a need.
To Illustrate lets use the hunger situation in Sinazongwe- in this case the role ICT would serve has been satisfied, the information of the hunger situation has moved from Sinazongwe to you, me and the most importantly the Zambian Govt. Now the Govt knows there are people threatened by starvation, they need to source and move relief food supplies to Sinazongwe. This is the point were the location of the population at threat of starvation introduces unique challenges that ICTs may not sufficiently address.
Because now, the Govt needs suitable trucks, fuel and a road network to Sinazongwe to deliver the food supplies. I know from my scant geography knowledge of the Sinazongwe area the roads are almost impassable and the trucks better carry enough fuel as there are no fuel stations for miles. If this population in Sinazongwe was closer to public service delivery infrastructure and more concentrated. It would be easier and cheaper for our already cash strapped Govt to deliver emergency food relief and not be forced to use expensive delivery methods such as helicopter use.

Cho said...

Thanks!

On your Sinazongwe example, that is just one example.

The other example could be that residents on Sinazongwe are indeed able to use ICT to improve education or even find out about new opportunities for trade in nearby villages in a way they've never done before.

I guess my point is that physical limits certainly are there, but technology provides new opportunities for us to be connected in ways we never thought possible....

In the presence of physical restrictions, it could well be "second best" solution. Relocating people does carry some costs that are not experienced under alternative but less beneficial measures.

Kashikulu said...

Cho -

You are right, ICT have tremendous benefits. It's just that, challenges in rural Zambia are multi faceted and require a holistic approach to resolve.