FELIX NKINKE, Senanga
SENANGA is one of the fast-growing districts in Western Province today. In recent years, notable developmental programmes have been undertaken in the area raising peopleâ€™s standard of living.
Perched west of the provincial capital Mongu, the district, which is characterised by the Kalahari Desert sand, is home to over 71,300 people of which 52.6 percent are women while the rest are men.
â€œSenanga is a peaceful district right now and people go about their daily routines normally. Those in formal employment are happily working in various departments while our people in the informal sector are also doing fine despite challenges that affect them as they seek to make a living,â€ said district commissioner Vivian Mubukwanu.
Indeed, at a glimpse, the district seems quite peaceful. In the main business area, people go about doing their businesses in normal fashion seeking what to buy from the few tiny shops dotted along the Senanga-Mongu road.
Its business as usual at the main market where one needs a bit of experience to tread through the sand when shopping around the wooden stalls piled with various fresh and dried products.
Women and men from the remote parts of the district are major traders with some trekking dozens of kilometres to sell their merchandise.
â€œIâ€™m a rice trader at this market and I have been selling here for quite some time now. I come all the way from Nendi, east of here,â€ said Kumoyo Mukela, a 31-year-old female trader.
â€œBut what kind of development have you seen in the district that has made you happy?â€ she was asked.
She smiled while pointing to an unfinished structure at roof level just across the market area.
â€œThat is the development I am talking about. The structure is the district hospital being built. Our roads, especially those leading to rural areas like where I come from, have been improved and a new clinic has been constructed. That is development,â€ she said.
Indeed, just like many districts in Zambia today, government crusade to take developmental programmes and projects across the country has also seen Senanga district glow in these initiatives.
â€œGovernment has done well in the district as we have also benefited from the various initiatives that have been implemented in other districts. We are very grateful to Government as some of these programmes have been able to alleviate poverty and have improved food security in the district,â€ Mr Mubukwanu said.
Infrastructure development has cut across a number of key sectors such as education, health, and agriculture and the road network. A curious eye will quickly note that new buildings at various stages of construction are dotted all over the district.
Roads leading to remote areas of economic significance have been worked on despite the sand nature of most rural parts of the district. Township roads have been kept in check as a programme is underway to tar all roads, a feat hailed by residents.
â€œFor the first time in the history of this district and maybe one of its kind in the province, all township roads will be upgraded to bituminous level. We are talking about 10.6 kilometres of roads being upgraded,â€ said Senanga District Council secretary Reagan Kalumba.
Mr Kalumba said a company called Fleet Management, contracted to undertake the works, is already on site and tarring of roads would start within the first quarter of this year.
Local authorities in the district are also happy that funds from central government have kept pouring in resulting in the undertaking of various projects currently underway in the district.
Water and sanitation infrastructure programmes are well in progress. The council has constructed 10 boreholes and 89 water points in a bid to deliver quality services to rural communities.
â€œIt is government policy that we offer people in remote areas safe and clean drinking water and that is what we are doing here in Senanga. We are expecting more funds from the African Development Bank meant to improve water reticulation in the township,â€ Mr Kalumba said.
Just like several other countries in southern African, Zambia has been hit by a drought that has negatively affected food production this farming season. Lack of a normal rainy season has been experienced in many parts of the country resulting in crop failure, particularly the countryâ€™s staple food maize.
Senanga has not been spared either. In many parts of the district, farmers have recorded high crop failure that local authorities have described as a sad development that will result in hunger.
Mr Mwangala said the district will not get the full crop potential as a result of poor rainfall in many areas.
â€œWeâ€™ll get very low crop production as low as 50 percent. This rainy season has brought huge challenges to the farming community in the district. We expect a crop yield below average as the rains come late and now the dry spell, We have been greatly affected,â€ he said.
But not all is lost as Government has continued to support farmers through the fertiliser input support programme. The district has this season received an estimated 55 metric tonnes (Mt) of D compound and 55Mt of urea which have already been distributed.
Mr Mwangala said seed packs such as maize, rice and sorghum from various key seed companies have already been supplied to farmers.
The livestock sub sector has experienced a rough ride as the district has been hit by the foot and mouth disease which has affected many animals. The disease was transmitted by cattle from Shangombo district but no animal movement ban has been effected between the two areas.
In the name of offering quality education to the rural populace in the district, which is in line with Government policy, Senanga has this far performed well in the development of educational systems to ensure that rural school-going children get the best.
Pupil performance has been highly rated, educational infrastructure has continued to be rehabilitated and constructed, while new programmes have been initiated and implemented to attract venerable pupils attend school daily.
Good and quality healthcare services are deemed key to the development of any given society. In this context, Senanga has moved in unison with the rest of country in health infrastructure development.
The district hospital has been upgraded to general hospital status. To accommodate this new status, an improvement programme was been embarked on to raise the standards.
Senanga is indeed on the path of development.
FELIX NKINKE, Senanga