BENEDICT TEMBO, Chisamba
AS the euphoria continues among local authorities across the country for elevation to either municipal or city status, Chisamba district is not to be left out.
Spoiling on its proximity to the capital city, Lusaka, the new district which was created in 2012 after being split from Chibombo, has hit the ground running in its quest to attain municipality status in the next 10 years.
And it is walking the talk.
Chisamba is one of the fastest growing among the newly-created districts.
â€œGod willing, we are hoping to attain its municipality status by the year 2027,â€ Chisamba District Council secretary Mary Lapukeni says.
The local authorityâ€™s premium at the moment is to expand the township boundary of the farming district.
Recently, the council offloaded residential, commercial and smallholding plots in its infrastructure development endeavours.
Government is on its part constructing the districtâ€™s first ever administration offices in New Chisamba, about 38 kilometres from the main check-point on the Great North Road.
The holding civic centre is based at the former Chibombo guest house.
Small holdings have been offered in Kamaila area, about eight kilometres from the Protea Hotel junction in Chisamba.
The council made available about 7,000 hectares of land.
A further 7,200 hectares of land for small holdings is expected to be offloaded in Chipilepile forest, about 73 kilometres from the junction at Chisamba check-point.
The local authority with the help of the Ministry of Lands is conducting social-economic surveys in the Chipilepile area and, so far, about 85 percent of works have been done.
â€œWe are hoping that we will be done in the next 14 days,â€ Ms Lapukeni says.
She says the exercise would have already been finalised but the heavy rains caused most of the roads to be impassable.
â€œThis is what has delayed the exercise,â€ she says.
The council has utilised funds raised from land application fees and the Local Government Equalisation Funds (LGEF) to improve service delivery.
â€œWe have procured two (4Ã—4) utility vehicles and one (20 tonne) tipper truck for garbage collection and maintenance of roads,â€ Ms Lapukeni explains.
According to Ms Lapukeni, the council still needs an additional two 4Ã—4 utility vehicles, a backhoe excavator and a light truck.
â€œThe backhoe/excavator will be for digging and loading of gravel for township and feeder roads and the 4×4 vehicles will be for day-to-day council operations which include monitoring of council projects,â€ she says.
â€œIn addition, it [council] initially started constructing eight medium- cost housing units from locally generated funds. We are winding up the construction using the capital component of LGEF. We are hoping to complete construction of these houses by end of June 2017.â€
Chisamba was declared a district in 2012 by late President Michael Sata in a bid to take services closer to the people.
Other districts which were created include Sinda, Vubwi (Eastern Province), Mitete, Mwandi, Limulunga, Nkeyema, Nalolo, Sioma, Mulobezi and Luampa (all Western Province), Luano, Chitambo (Central Province), and Rufunsa (Lusaka Province), among others.
Government has since invested a fortune in constructing civic centres, district administration offices, post offices, police stations, medium and low-cost houses and other attendant infrastructure.
Chisamba member of Parliament Chushi Caroline-Kasanda says her focus is to ensure that the district has adequate classroom space to reverse the current trend where the girl-child is dropping out of school early and becoming vulnerable.
Ms Kasanda says dropping out of school early has spawned early marriages, teen pregnancies and HIV infections.
She also wants to ensure that Chisamba has many boreholes to enhance access to clean and portable water because currently, women and girls walk long distances to fetch water.
â€œWater is life. Chisamba has a big challenge with water, we have to ensure we drill as many boreholes as possible,â€ she notes.
The legislator is happy about the construction of Mwomboshi Dam, which will help alleviate the shortage of water in the district.
The district is also home to Mulungushi Dam and Lunsemfwa Hydro Power Station owned by Lunsemfwa Hydro Power Company which bought the onceÂ Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM)-owned facility during the privatisation period.
Government, with the help of the World Bank, is constructing a multi-purpose dam under the Irrigation Development and Support Project (ISDP) at US$37 million.
Ms Caroline-Kasanda is lobbying for the construction of a multi-purpose hall where youths will be playing games as well as offering life-saving skills such as tailoring and carpentry for youth and women.
Chisamba council chairperson Fred Choongo says his primary objective is to see the agrarian district develop by 2021 and beyond.
Mr Choongo wants to focus on agriculture, health, education, commerce and industry.
Since agriculture is the mainstay of the district, he wants the sector to drive the engine of development and wants to see a situation where farm inputs are delivered to farmers two to three months before the rainy season so as to help the farmers plan well in advance and to sustain bumper harvests.
â€œI would surely want to see a situation where our small-scale farmers graduate from small scale to emergent and so on,â€ he says.
Due to poor extension services in the area, Mr Choongo wants a farmer training school built in Chisamba to place emphasis on crops such as maize, soya beans, cotton, wheat, sorghum, cow peas and animal husbandry to support dairy, beef, goats, sheep and poultry production.
Chamuka ward councillor Fred Mwapeâ€™s wish is to have clean and safe drinking water for every household, a good road network and empowerment of farmers by giving them soft loans.
Mr Mwape wants the restocking of livestock and more dams and dip tanks to be built to lessen animal diseases.
He also wants communication towers to be built in areas like Kaputi and Luano to enhance communication.
â€œI hope that rural electrification shall reach my ward one day. I also wish to have some community schools to be upgraded to primary level to reduce on the long distance our children are covering and that may in turn improve the education standards,â€ he explains.
Chisamba, which lies along the railway between Lusaka and Kabwe, is one of Zambiaâ€™s three major farm blocks. The other two are Mazabuka and Mkushi districts.
The major economic activity, therefore, is predominantly farming. The district is characterised by the presence of a predominant settler farming community.
Small-scale farmers also account for a significant share of agricultural activities, which make the district a food basket.
It is therefore unsurprising that crop levy is a significant component of the local authorityâ€™s revenue base.
The hospitality industry is equally making a footprint in the district, with the major outfits being the renowned Chaminuka Nature Reserve, Fringilla Lodge and Protea Hotel.
In the education sector, the district is home to Banani International Girls Secondary School owned by the Bahai Faith, the Seventh Day Adventistâ€™s Emmanuel Secondary School and the historical Chipembi Girls Secondary School of the United Church of Zambia (UCZ).
The UCZ also owns Chipembi Farm College.
The major health facility in the district is Liteta Hospital, which was once a leprosarium.
The major indigenous language is Lenje. The other indigenous language in the district is Swaka.
Chief Chamuka of the Lenje is the only traditional leader in the district, which equally has one constituency-Chisamba.
There is also a significant settler population of Shonas and Ndebeles in the district.
BENEDICT TEMBO, Chisamba