VIOLET MENGO, Dundumwezi
MEMORY Mufanga of Musanka village is an entrepreneur who sells maize, clothes and shoes on the Dundumwezi-Kalomo road in Dundumwezi
For years, she has been involved in this business and has become a well-known person in the neighbourhood because of her viable small business.
Ms Mufanga, a mother of four, is able to fend for her family and because of her success story, other women in the area have become breadwinners of their families.
“I earn a living through selling clothes, shoes and sometimes maize. The business is not very busy, but I have been able to provide for my family and also take my children to school,” Ms Mufanga says.
Before that, sending children to school was a big challenge for Ms Mufanga when she was doing piece-work on farms in the area.
Failure to make ends meet gave her courage to quit farm-work and start selling maize, clothes and shoes on the road, a decision she is proud of.
However, Ms Mufanga, who is also a peasant, finds it hard to trade during the rainy season as the Dundumwezi-Kalomo road is usually in a bad condition and becomes inaccessible.
A good road network in the area would make economic sense for the trader-cum-peasant, as well as other small-scale farmers in Dundumwezi, Kalomo, and other surrounding areas.
A good road network is the socio-economic backbone of any community because it facilitates the movement of people and goods.
But a higher percentage of the road network in Zambia is unpaved, and communication with other areas and access to the markets becomes a challenge for the people during the rainy season.
The Road Development Agency (RDA) says 82 percent of unpaved primary feeder roads are in poor condition.
In an effort to change the status quo, Government, in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB), is implementing a project called Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR). Ms Mufanga’s hopes of having a road that is accessible throughout the year will soon be a reality.
The PPCR is one of the funding windows for climate-resilient programmes in Zambia and so far, the major project is being implemented in the Kafue sub-basin.
The project, called Strengthening Climate Resilience (SCRIKA), aims to strengthen the adaptive capacity of rural communities to better respond to the current climate variability and long-term consequence of climate change in the Kafue sub-basin.
One of the components of SCRIKA focuses at the construction and rehabilitation of climate-resilient roads to enhance livelihoods of the people in Southern and Central provinces.
The road, whose construction commenced recently, will run from Kalomo district through Dundumwezi gate (Kafue National Park gate) via Ngoma village, Itezhi tezhi up to Namwala covering a stretch of 257 kilometres.
The road project will involve construction and installation of new box and pipe culverts, drifts, unlined drains, rehabilitation of bridges and maintenance of the works for a period of two years.
SCRIKA acting project manager Evans Mwengwe explains that to make it climate-resilient, the road will be built to standards and codes that will make it withstand floods. It will be a special gravel road, the first of its kind in Zambia.
“The road will be built in such a way that motorists will be able to access it throughout the year as opposed to the current situation where, when it is rainy season, [for] three to four months, motorists and people are not able to use the road until floods recede,” Mr Mwengwe said.
This is an output and performance-based project that will run for five years. Under such a project, the contractor is required to maintain the road to the satisfaction of the client and payment is done on an output basis or based on the scale of works done.
Unlike the traditional input road contracts, output-based maintenance contracts do not require big upfront payment and this compels the contractor to meet prescribed standards to earn their pay.
In this case, the contractor will do road maintenance in the latter two years of the project life.
The total cost of the project is K18.8 million. Forty percent of the budget is for maintenance, while the 60 percent is dedicated for construction and rehabilitation of the road.
Economic benefits of the road
One of the economic benefits of the road is giving local farmers access to the markets.
Mr Mwengwe said most of the farmers along the 257km stretch are big producers of different crops and livestock products.
The road will give them an easy access to the markets to sell crops. A good income will build their adaptive capacity to the impact of climate change such as drought and floods.
For example, in case of unfavourable rainfall due to drought, peasants who can afford early-maturing seeds can cope without compromising food security at household and national level.
At the same time, the cost of doing business, given a good road network, will be much lower, because reducing wear and tear on motor vehicles is expected to reduce transportation costs. Eventually, farming will become a more profitable business for farmers along the Kalomo, Dundumwezi, Ngoma, Itezhi Tezhi and Namwala corridor.
“One other major aspect of the road is giving tourists access to the Kafue National Park,” Mr Mwengwe said.