Friday, March 28, 2008

Zambian Governments begins resettling isolated populations.

While watching ZNBC TV today, Kashikulu learnt with happiness that the Govt is resettling people living in areas that are remote and at a high risk of experiencing disaster to safe areas closer to public infrastructure. As I have discussed here, recent floods in Zambia have overwhelmed government’s disaster intervention capacity and the specific challenge of widely dispersed and remote population concentration in rural Zambia has made intervention extremely challenging and expensive.

The Disaster management program under the National Society program support plan 2008-9 had planned for a population size of only 100,000 for disaster intervention.
However the floods impacted more than 1.5 million with an estimated 300,000 people needing immediate intervention to relieve food, water and shelter needs.

The Zambian government has an ambitious program of reducing rural poverty from the current 68% level to 20% by 2030; however this and other long term goals can be achieved through a holistic approach to our current challenges.
The absence of specific population planning for both rural and urban areas is particularly troubling for me. There appears to be no long term plans for where the houses, schools, roads, hospitals or cemeteries for the projected population growth or the 40% expected to be lifted from the current 68% poverty quota.
The chaos associated with the expansion of the city of Lusaka is a poignant symptom of the failure to plan for the future. The city’s latest building boom Meanwood has houses at various paces of construction in the Chamba valley area without specific plans of how water and sanitation will be addressed by Lusaka water Company currently failing to ensure water supply to nearby Kaunda square township or electricity from ZESCO currently unable to supply uninterrupted electricity to the city.
The city has allowed unplanned residential areas to thrive for years and the consequence is a vast population living is squalor rife with crime and diseases like cholera with unmatched number of schools, clinics or roads.

And if failure to plan at community level brings forth such chaos in urban Lusaka,what calamity does failure to plan at family level bring forth in rural Zambia?
Early marriage, which sadly entraps the rural population in a vicious cycle of poverty; Kashikulu is glad Government has promised to prosecute parents that force their children into early marriages. However here as elsewhere, real impact can only be achieved by population planning and re-evaluating the impact of customary law. I have argued that some aspects customary law undermine our development goals by fostering early marriage and traditional roles over the education of boys and girls.