CONSTITUENCY WATCH with DOREEN NAWA, Chikankata
SITUATED on the southern side of Kafue district, Chikankata constituency is home to one of Zambiaâ€™s oldest missions, Chikankata and Zambiaâ€™s biggest producer of electricity, the Kafue Gorge.
The constituency is situated 149 kilometres south of Lusaka.
Chikankata is a district as well as a constituency and is known for being Zambiaâ€™s maize production powerhouse after Kalomo.
The constituency is home to Chikankata Salvation Army Hospital, a part of Chikankata Mission, and is situated 32km from the Livingstone Lusaka road.
The constituency has eight wards namely Kasengo, Namalundu, Musaya, Nansenga, Chitete, Malala, Mabwe Tuba and Upper Kaleye.
Considering that some meaningful activities only take place around the Chikankata mission and the Kafue Gorge, the population too is concentrated around these areas.
What drives the economy in the constituency is mainly agriculture, livestock rearing and craft-making of reed mats and baskets for those that live closer to the Kafue River.
Illegal charcoal production is high in the constituency because only 20 percent of its population is in formal employment and 80 percent who are mostly youths are self-employed.
The main employers in the constituency are Kafue Gorge (the largest employer in the constituency) and the Chikankata Mission.
Chikankata constituency has one Government secondary school (Namalundu), one mission secondary school (Chikankata High School) and 30 primary schools.
Chikankata High School is run by the Salvation Army. It is one of the most well-known schools in the country. The school has about 760 pupils, with the majority being boarders that come from southern and Lusaka provinces.
The constituency is also home to Chikankata College of Bio-Medical Sciences and Chikankata Nursing School.
The two institutions are the major health training facilities in the country.
The constituency which has a population of over 90,000 has two hospitals namely Chikankata and Kafue Gorge.
Chikankata Mission Hospital is funded by Government, but it is run by the Salvation Army. The hospital is a second level health institution, that is, it is a referral hospital. The hospital was the first to introduce the concept of home-based care in the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
Kafue Gorge Hospital is a government hospital. In addition, Chikankata constituency has 15 rural health centres scattered around the constituency.
In addition to the generation of power at Kafue Gorge Power Station and running of hydropower courses and conferences at Kafue Gorge Training Centre (KGRTC), the constituency is also involved in commercial and peasant farming.
Chikankata produces a lot of maize. It is second only to Kalomo and no area produces as much as it does. The district also keeps a lot of cattle.
With the main giant economic players; Kafue Gorge Power Station and Kafue Gorge Regional Training Centre (KGRTC) and its strategic location of having two international roads passing through it, that is, Livingstone and Chirundu roads, the constituency is poised to develop substantially.
The constituency is linked to the rest of the country using the 32-kilometre road from the Livingstone-Lusaka road as well as the Kafue-Chirundu road.
Besides the two main roads, the constituency has feeder roads which have not been graded in over three years.
One of the residents, Kebby Chiinda says the poor state of the feeder roads are affecting the transportation of agricultural products to markets.
â€œWe need a periodic maintenance of the feeder road by the Rural Roads Unit. Our share of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) is not enough to cater for the numerous needs in our area,â€ Mr Chiinda said.
The constituency has no industry; currently the Luangwa district council has approved a 200-hectare piece of land for a government project spearheaded by Zam-capitol for the construction of a milling plant.
The constituency has two chiefdoms namely Naluwaama and Mwenda.
The main ethnic groups are the Tongas.
The constituency has not had its share of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) for the year 2014 and 2015, and just like several other rural constituencies, the CDF is not enough following the numerous challenges the people of Chikankata constituency face.
â€œWe are doing our best to ensure that each ward in the constituency gets a share of the CDF projects but the allocation is like a drop in the ocean. We have challenges regarding the poor road networks in the constituency, poor school and health infrastructure, and making an equal share of the funds amount to nothing.
â€œAs rural members of Parliament, we have brought this to the attention of the house; it is our hope that one day something will be done,â€ Chikankata member of Parliament (MP) Munji Habeenzu said.
Mr Habeenzu said from the 2013 CDF funding, a number of projects have stalled in all the eight wards.
â€œDrilling of boreholes and construction of classroom blocks and additional health infrastructure is underway in most wards but they have stalled because we have not received funding for two years now,â€ Mr Habeenzu said.
Mr Habeenzu cited the construction of a maternity wing at Mapangazya Rural Health Centre (RHC), construction of a three-classroom block at Buche Buche all under CDF funding.
And Chieftainess Mwenda says the construction of the 32-kilometre road commonly known as Chikankata road will bring development and recognition to the constituency and district as a whole.
The Chieftainess says Chikankata constituency needs an industry especially for maize to keep the youths in the constituency productive.
â€œCurrently there is no industry here and opening up of any industry in Chikankata constituency will be of great benefit to the unemployed youths,â€ Chieftainess Mwenda said.
The constituency is surrounded by hills and traditional village settlements with the majority of the population living in remote areas of the Southern Province.
CONSTITUENCY WATCH with DOREEN NAWA, Chikankata