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Chama: Border district with immense growth potential

CHAMA is the most northerly, largest but least populated district in Muchinga, the newest and 10th province of Zambia.
The district, which not too long ago used to be part of Eastern Province, includes a large wilderness in the upper Luangwa Valley just north-east of North Luangwa National Park. It is divided into two constituencies: Chama North and Chama South.
The current area members of Parliament are former Minister of Foreign Affairs Effron Lungu for Chama South and January Zimba for Chama North.
Most Chama residents live closer to the Malawian border and share tribal and cultural ties with the people of the northern highlands of that country.
The people of Chama are mainly Senga. However, there are also Tumbuka and Chewa people who live there although Senga is the most commonly spoken language in the district.
With a population of 131,514, according to the Central Statistical Office (CSO) 2010 census of population and housing, Chama recorded up to 54,581 registered voters as of January 5, 2016 in its two constituencies, which have 22 wards.
The wards that make up Chama district are Lupamazi, Mbazi, Mantepa, Malinga, Lumezi, Vilimukulu, Chipala, Lunzi, Chilenje and Bazimu. Others are Luangwa, Muchinga, Mazonde, Manthepa, Chisanga, Kalinku, Nkhankha, Kampemba, Mbuzi, Mwalala, Ndunda and Mpalausenga.
In the words of District Council secretary Yaphet Simpemba: “The voter registration exercise started very well.”
Chama North recorded a total of 29,110 registered voters, while Chama South captured 25,412 between September 14, 2015 and December 13, 2015.
“We also had an additional 59 registered voters from December 13, 2015 to January 5, 2016; the total number of registered voters to date is 51,581,” Mr Simpemba said.
In the area of health, Chama will soon get a modern district hospital. The construction of the modern K17 million Chama District Hospital has reached an advanced stage, with over 80 percent of the works already completed.
Other than the district hospital, Chama has also benefited from the 650 health posts that Government is constructing country-wide. A total of 11 health posts have been allocated to the district.
About 131,518 people are expected to benefit from the health facilities, thereby contributing to the reduction in maternal mortality in the district.
“These modern health facilities will unquestionably have a positive impact on the community once their construction is completed. It is pleasing that Government has decided to bring health facilities closer to Chama residents,” district administrative officer Noah Simulunga says.
Mr Simulunga says travelling to other districts such as Lundazi, Chinsali, Mpika or even Chipata to seek health services would now be a thing of the past for residents.
“We are confident that other district health facilities will no longer be congested once construction of our Chama health facilities is finalised. We want our people to have easy access to health services. This has always been Government’s desire,” he adds.
Like most rural districts, agriculture is the leading economic activity for the district with maize being the most commonly grown crop.
However, the district is also known as a rice-growing area. Also, cotton has proved to be a lucrative crop for some.
Other crops grown are sorghum, soya beans, groundnuts, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, cabbage and sunflowers.
Mr Simulunga is pleased that all farmers who supplied maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) in Chama district for the 2014/2015 farming season have been paid.
The Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) has also been received well by Chama residents.
“Talking about the [FISP] programme, I would like to thank Government for ensuring that fertiliser and seed are distributed to farmers on time in the district. As a district, we received fertiliser way back in June, 2015,” Mr Simulunga says.
The administrative office is also happy that under agriculture, 12 camp houses have been constructed with financial support from the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The houses have been constructed at a cost of K8,106,936. Six houses have so far been constructed, and only two are yet to be finalised.
Government through the Ministry of Agriculture is also constructing four dip tanks in Kanyerere, Chama Central, Manga and Kaozi at a cost of K600,000.
There are a number of developmental projects that are on-going in Chama district.
It is something that has pleased the district administration.
“On behalf of the district administration, I would like to pay tribute to Government for ensuring that Chama benefits from the national cake. It is encouraging that Government has paid particular attention to infrastructure development in the district,” Mr Simulunga says.
“Chama has transformed into a fast developing town within a short period of time. All the beautiful infrastructure development projects we’re seeing today have been developed within a period of three years. This is no mean achievement for a place that has been underdeveloped since Zambia got its independence.”
Evident projects in Chama, other than the modern district hospital, include the tarring of township roads and construction of a K4.9 million subordinate court, a youth resource centre and district administration offices.
Others are the tarring of the 40-kilometre stretch of the Chama – Matumbo road which goes towards Luangwa River, the construction of a bridge across Luangwa River to link Chinsali to Chama and the construction of secondary schools, among others.
“I am also happy to mention that boleholes are being sunk in Chama North and Chama South. I am also hopeful that feeder roads such as the Chama-Lundazi and Chikwa –Lundazi roads are also earmarked for upgrading. People in Chama are excited about these development projects,” Mr Simulunga says.
The district has a total of 172 schools ranging from pre-schools to secondary schools.
District education board secretary Pardon Tesho says some primary schools are still housing grades eight and nine because of the limited number of secondary schools.
The secondary schools include Chama South Boarding, Chama Boarding, Chama Day, Kambombo Day, Katangalika Day, Chiteba and Chibale.
The introduction of the re-entry policy has reduced on school drop-outs among the girl children in Chama, according to education authorities in the district.
Chama district has seven chiefdoms under Senior Chief Kambombo, Chief Chibale, Chief Mulilo, Chief Lundu, Chief Tembwe, Chief Chikwa and Chief Chifunda.
According to Senior Chief Kambombo of the Senga people, “Chama district is fast developing into the most beautiful town in Zambia. The road infrastructure is really beautiful. The district will be the most beautiful town once construction of the new airport is completed. Chama will be the fourth or maybe the fifth beautiful city in the country.”