By Amos Zulu –
Lake Tanganyika lies on the Great Rift Valley and is shared among Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia.With a stretch of about 673 kilometers of fresh water, it offers immense opportunities in transport, tourism and fisheries.
With Zambia claiming around seven per cent of Lake Tanganyika surface water, the people around the Lake basin are mainly dependent on fishing and trading.
Apart from lake water pollution and the depletion of fish stocks, the people along the lake shore in the surrounding districts of Nsama and Mpulungu, are also faced with a number of challenges such as access to social services and opportunities like education, health and entrepreneurship.
However, Government through the Lake Tanganyika Development Project wants to change the picture. The Lake Tanganyika Development Project (LTDP) is an integrated project which aims at protecting the ecological integrity of the Lake Tanganyika basin and improving the quality of lives of the people along the basin.
This is though the provision of essential economic infrastructure and support to sustainable alternative livelihood projects.
The US$29.9 million project whichis supported by the African Development Bank and the Global Environment Facility is concentrated in Mpulungu and Nsama districts and has a component of sustainable forest, wildlife, and land management which involves forestry management, improving access roads in Nsumbu national park and surrounding Game Management Areas, land management and erosion controls structures and the promotion of conservation farming and agro forestry. The component which has a budget of US$15.5 million will also support fisheries research activities on the lake and boost conservation efforts as well as construct fisheries related infrastructure and establishing cold chains.The other element amounting to US$10.53 million is for improvement of alternative livelihoods and socio- economic infrastructure.
Mpulungu Member of Parliament Freedom Sikazwe who recently officiated at the opening of a newly constructed project office block in Mpulungu district said the project had achieved key milestone such as the completion of two staff houses at Chituta primary school, Kapembwa rural health centre and Nzovwe classroom block among others in Mpulungu district.“Since its commencement in 2015, the project has completed the national coordinating unit, two staff houses at Chituta primary school, Kapembwa rural health center, Nzovwe classroom block and Chipwa rural health post in Mpulungu. One staff house has been completed at Kasaba bay primary school, a community radio station in Nsumbu and Mushi rural health centerin Nsama district. In addition, there are several infrastructure projects at different level of implementation and yet to be launched,” Mr. Sikazwe explained.
He said the completion of the projects is a clear demonstration of the commitment by the Patriotic Front Government aimed at uplifting the welfare of the people.
“This project has a life time of up to 2020, I urge the project coordinator to ensure that all the contractors complete these projects before the end of the project. I want to state that before this project is complete, the people of Nsama and Mpulungu are so expectant, we feel that before 2020, these projects come to reality. We have to do the Ngwenya, water project in Kasakalawe and roads,” He said.
Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection Permanent Secretary, Ed Chomba who co-chaired the LTDP steering committee meeting with his Northern Province Counterpart, Elias Kamanga Monitoring and Evaluation is a key component in measuring appropriation of funds and progress on Government projects.
Dr. Chomba said the project was strategic as it was meant to improve the livelihood of the people. He said it was therefore important that its goals and objectives were measured.“We want to ensure that as we move towards implementation, what comes out key is that we need to measure ourselves.
This project is strategic, not only where it is located but also from the Government point of view and its focus is to improve the lives of the people. When you look at the Mpulungu basin, our people are traders by nature and how do we improve from where they have been to another level?”Dr. Chomba asked.
If people are able to see from outside that the lives of the people has changed then we have scored,” He said.
Dr. Chomba said it is important that Lake Tanganyika Development project is a campus for other projects in the country.
He said what was key under the project is the quality of works and how long the infrastructure will be sustained in the next 20 years.
The author is Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection.
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