CYNTHIA MWALE, Chilubi Island
IT IS the nature of being a three-tier district; island, mainland and swamp that distinguishes Chilubi as a unique area from other districts in Zambia. Chilubi has the potential to develop the mining, tourism, agriculture and fisheries sectors.
Although faced with numerous socio-economic challenges, which can be turned into opportunities, Chilubi district is slowly but steadily transforming from a sleeping economic giant to a developed area with the current infrastructure development and businesses coming up in the area.
Chilubiâ€™s location also gives it an advantage over other districts. Being one of the nine districts of Northern Province, Chilubi shares its boundaries with Luwingu in the north, Kasama in the east, Mpika in the south and Samfya in the west and part of the south.
With its vast water bodies covering north-east Lake Bangweulu and Bangweulu swamps containing several islands including Chilubi Island, the district has the potential to become â€˜another Siavongaâ€™ to attract tourists for boat cruises, sandy beaches and lodges once set up along the shores.
According to the 2010 Central Statistical Office census of population and housing, Chilubi has over 82,000 people and is the third most densely populated district in Northern Province at 17. 5 persons per square kilometre after Mbala and Kasama which have 24.3 and 21.5 persons per similar areas respectively.
The district experiences a warm tropical climate with adequate rainfall of above 1,000 millilitres from November to April annually. Generally, from May to July, it is fairly cold with temperatures ranging from eight to 22 degrees Celsius. From August to October, the weather is usually cool to warm, humid with partial rainfall at times with the average temperatures of between 21 to 24 degrees Celsius.
Ideally, the climate in Chilubi is suitable for growing crops, livestock and fish farming.
Chilubi has the potential to become a strong player in economic development once the exploration of gold, copper and cobalt in Chilubi and Luwingu districts becomes fruitful.
A Zambian firm, Chilubi Mineral Prospecting and Mining Company Limited, has set aside US$3.8 million for exploration works in Chiwanangala area and targets to create between 2,000 and 4,000 jobs.
Chilubi district commissioner Boniface Kamanda is optimistic that the Kitwe-based mining firm, which started exploration last year, will contribute to the national treasury through various forms of tax.
â€œYou are aware that where there are mining activities, there is bound to be banks, infrastructure development, road network, filling stations, guesthouses [tourism], and this will bring in revenue not only in the district but also the nation as a wholeâ€¦ Mining activities are a money spinner,â€ Mr Kamanda said.
Already, the National Savings and Credit Bank (NATSAVE) has set up base in the area after it commissioned a K3.5 million branch to offer financial services and products to the populace of Chilubi.
The people of Chilubi mainly engage in fisheries and agriculture sectors with a focus on growing maize, cassava, rice, groundnuts and beans, among other crops.
Water transportation is one sector that is thriving in the area considering that it is the reliable mode of travelling to and from such islands as Chilubi, Mbabala and Chishi.
Like other districts, Chilubi is not lagging behind as it is getting a fair share of infrastructure development through the central government and constituency development funds.
THE Constructed Chilubi District Hospital under phase 2.
Under the Link Zambia 2000 road construction project, the tarring of the 188-kilometre Luwingu- Chaba (mainland) road will start before the end of this year to link Chilubi Island to other areas and open it up to increased trade with the rest of the country.
Undoubtedly, Chilubi is well connected to physical infrastructure, telecommunication services and power supply.
In the social sector, a number of projects are being implemented in education and health. A number of schools are being constructed with others being upgraded. These include Mpupo Secondary School, which is earmarked for opening in January next year while the construction of Matipa Day School is expected to be completed as scheduled.
Progress has also been made in the health sector with the construction of Chilubi District Hospital in Chaba (mainland) scheduled for completion in August next year.
This will help improve provision of quality health services to the local people. Other health centres in Chilubi are Santa Maria Mission and Lubwa hospitals.
Despite its vastness, Chilubi has only two gazetted chiefs, namely Chiwanagala and Matipa with Chitunkubwe, Mwanakasabi, Fube and Mwape Kalunga being sub-chiefs.
Chief Chiwanagala of the Bisa people feels government should consider gazetting some sub chiefs in Chilubi district as full time chiefs to help boost economic development through effective representation.