A look at Malole Constituency
Published On May 15, 2015 » 2851 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Features
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MOST rural constituencies face  myriads  of developmental challenges despite having huge economic prospects.
Most of these areas have vast natural resources to tap from and improve the peoples lives and status. Malole Constituency in Mungwi District of Northern Province is not exceptional considering the vastness of the area.
The constituency sits on 9,766 kilometre squared, with a population of over 151,058 according the 2010 population census which is also the biggest constituency in Zambia.
The chief economic activity is agriculture with fishing and a bit of pastoral activities concentrating along Chambeshi River area.
The people grow a variety of crops ranging from maize, finger millet, groundnuts, beans and rice, particularly in Chambeshi swamps along the river.
The Constituency possibly,  has more rivers than any other constituency in the country. There is either a river or stream after every eight Kilometres.
Chief among the challenges the Constituency faces,  is  a poor state of major and feeder roads which heighten the market hurdles for the produce as most of the areas are not reached.
Malole Member of Parliament (MP) Christopher Yaluma who was recently in the area, says poor road network was hampering agriculture production such as  rice in the area.
“The deplorable state of Chambeshi, Nseluka-Kayambi and Nondo-Losa-Chimbola Roads are a great concern, and I think the Road Development Agency and other Government agencies should priortise road projects leading to economically viable areas and that is how we can develop,” he says.
Mr Yaluma,  who is also the Mines, Energy and Water Development minister, says the Constituency produces more rice than any other region in the country but that,  due to  the deplorable state of the roads  produce go to waste as many buyers could not risk reaching most areas.
Talks between Mr Yaluma and the Mungwi District Council have started bearing fruit.
The council has procured earth moving equipment worth K1.2 million using the 2013 Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to improve the road network in district.
Unveiling the equipment in Mungwi, Mr Yaluma says the procurement of road maintenance equipment will go a long way in making most areas reachable.
“Most areas in my Constituency are in a  deplorable state, even making it difficult for a bicycle to navigate that is why the procurement of equipment will make most areas accessible,” Mr Yaluma says.
The set of equipment included a grader and a tipper truck which will be used to grade and make new feeder roads in all wards of the constituency.
He assures that the Patriotic Front (PF) administration will continue prioritising road infrastructure  as it is critical in facilitating economic development.
“People of Mungwi and Malole Constituency in particular have suffered too long especially in the areas of infrastructure development hence the need to work together and map out the priority areas to accelerate economic growth in remotest parts of the constituency,” he says.
He urged the district and Council administration to look for competent operators and ensure that the set of equipment were comprehensively insured in case of any damage.
Mungwi acting Council chairperson Pascal Chileshe says the reason behind the acquisition of road equipment is to improve road network in the district starting with the farthest areas.
“The council has plans to procure the other  remaining set which are the front-end loader and compactor from the 2014 CDF to provide quality service delivery to the people,” Mr Chileshe said.
But residents suggest that while the Government is working on improving the road network in the Constituency, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) should set up rice buying depots in the area especially where private buyers fail to reach.
“Rice farmers in this area face serious challenges in accessing markets for the produce due to  the deplorable nature of the road network and  so,  if FRA can come in and mop-up much of the crop,  farmers would be delighted,” Albert Kasonde, a rice farmer, said.
Chambeshi area in Mungwi District has a lot of potential for rice growing due to a number of swamps surrounding the Chambeshi River, one of Zambia’s  the biggest rivers.
Since fish is almost depleted in most natural ponds as well as the main river, Mr Kasonde said  there is need for Government to encourage rice farming by creating access to market through road upgrade and market access.
On maize production, farmers are expected to  get  inputs early due through the early distribution of inputs under the Fertiliser Input Support Programme (FISP) which ,Chitimukulu Agriculture Cooperative secretary Humphrey Kacholi  says  will  significantly increase maize production if the FRA  can also pay farmers on time. Mr Kacholi says farmers have been asking for early delivery of inputs.
“We have been crying for early distribution of inputs for a long time and it is good that Government has considered the farmers’ cry,” Mr Kacholi said.
He wants fertiliser and seeds in the next farming season to be available in cooperative depots in the vicinity of farmers to encourage winter cropping and other farming activities for the country to have plenty of food.
Mr Kacholi is, however, concerned that despite the early input delivery,  farmers were likely to access inputs late as they would be  waiting to be paid by the FRA.
In April this year, Agriculture and Livestock Minister  Given Lubinda flagged off the distribution of fertiliser which is unprecedented in the history of FISP.
Mungwi has so far received more than 463 tonnes of basal dressing fertiliser from the total of 1,300 tonnes to be distributed to farmers in the district.
About three trucks loaded each carrying 700 by 50 Kilogrammes of Compound D fertiliser where seen offloading the commodity at Mungwi District Depot.
Acting Mungwi District Commissioner Mwape Mumbi says over 463 out of the expected 1,300 tonnes had arrived in the district.
The other issue choking residents and the area Member of Parliament is limited access to clean water despite  being endowed with many water sources.
To kick start water development in the area, Government plans to construct a water treatment plant to ease the water challenges people face.
Experts from the Department of Water Development,  were recently dispatched to assess the water levels in Kalungu River and also look at the underground water.
Principal hydrologist Albert Chomba who led a team of experts says they were in the area to assess the water situation.
Mr Chomba said  at  Chitimukulu Palace that the experts were doing a water availability assessment which would culminate into either constructing a mini water treatment plant or  creating water schemes to service the area.
“We are here to assess the water situation in this chiefdom, so that we can come up with the best option  as to whether there would be need to construct a mini water treatment plant or to tap underground water,” he said.
Mr Chomba says Government is aware of the water challenge residents face adding that it is the reason his team visited the area.
After  a full assessment and looking at the cost effective option, the Government will  either construct a water treatment plant or create water schemes using ground water.
A check at the Chitimukulu Rural Health Centre revealed that the water tank which used to service the community and the health centre busted a year ago leaving residents stranded.
Mr Chomba assures that the water tank will soon be restored and that the water problem in the area will be a thing of the past.
He said  the area is endowed with water resources both from Kalungu River and the underground water which will make it possible to pursue both options.
Limited access to finance is one of the major issues residents especially youths and Mr Yaluma  is unhappy with this.
Youths and their MP want administrators of the youth empowerment fund to simplify forms to enable them access funds for them to venture into various businesses especially that the area has no industry worth talking about.
Last year, no youth accessed the funds as they were failing to fill in  the forms.
On behalf of other youths,  Bwalya Bwikalo said the youths were unable  to get funds due to their  failure to fill in the forms.
“The forms are too complicated, it needs some one with accounts knowledge, because one is made to make a balance sheet of products and services to be procured for sale,” Mr Bwikalo said.
He acknowledges that most youths in his Constituency were not accessing empowerment funds.
“Youth empowerment forms are very complex that is why my people in the Constituency are failing to access the funds,” Mr Yaluma said.
He has resolved to help youths fill in the forms since all efforts at the district level have not materialised.
“I have asked them to fill in  and sign  parts which they understood and leave those they could not do to me, so that we can do it together through conferencing so that at-least this year a number of them with good business proposals can  access the funds,” he said.
Mr Yaluma is committed to seeing  to it that youths in his Constituency undertake economic ventures and exploit the economic potential the district is endowed with.
He is working with the relevant ministries to increase the number of youth skills resource and training centres in his Constituency.
“This Constituency is the largest in the country, but surprisingly it only has one youth training resource centre.
“Those responsible in allocating these things should critically consider my Constituency to increase access to youth skills,” he added.
To reduce challenges rural communities face countrywide, there is need for concerted efforts among all stakeholders.

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