KNOW YOUR DISTRICT with CHAMBO NGâ€™UNI, Mafinga
A SCAN through Mafinga reveals that the district, which was initially part of Isoka in Muchinga Province, requires some attention to take it out of its current status of an underdeveloped area.
Before late President Michael Sata declared it a district in February 2011, Mafinga, then known as Isoka East, lacked basic infrastructure such as schools and health centres.
Its residents also experienced challenges to access Isoka and Chama districts because of a deplorable road network in the region.
Electricity is another problem the local people face as the district is not yet connected to the national power grid. The district also has no piped water and the residents depend on boreholes and shallow wells as their sources of water.
The lack of decent residential accommodation, banks, filling stations, a well-established trading centre and hospitality industry, among others, has negatively affected the economic and social well-being of the people of Mafinga.
The Mafinga National Assembly office located in Thendele where the new district administration offices and township are being built, is currently the only modern structure in the area.
â€œThe key drivers of economic development in Mafinga are agriculture and livestock, telecommunication and technology, education, health, the local authority, as well as roads and transport,â€ district administrative officer Mulenga Yamishi said recently.
Mr Yamishi said the residents are involved in cross-border trade as they trek to Malawi, Nakonde and Lusaka to buy soap, clothes, cooking oil, sugar and other merchandise.
Nonetheless, the outlook of Mafinga, which derives its name from the Mafinga Hills which lie over an area of about 4,134 square kilometres, is steadily changing for the better.
The hilly district is sparsely populated with people having settled in areas with fertile land and trading activities.
According to the 2010 census of population and housing, the district has 80,026 people out of whom 41,558 are females while 38,468 are males.
Mafinga district is in itself a constituency with Catherine Namugala of the MMD being the area Member of Parliament.
The constituency has eight wards although this number is likely to increase to 11 after the delimitation exercise is carried out.
The district hosts the source of the Luangwa River in the Mafinga Hills and shares its administrative boundaries with Chama district to the south-east, Isoka in the north-west with Malawi lying in the north-eastern direction.
Chiefs Muyombe of the Tumbuka people, Mwenechifugwe of the Mafugwa, Nyika and Nweniwise of the Lambia are the ones who preside over traditional affairs in the district.
The people of Mafinga celebrate the Vinkhakanyimba, Chambo Chilutango and the Chikunga traditional ceremonies under Senior Chief Muyombe, Chief Mwenechifugwe and Chief Nweniwise respectively.
Construction of the Mafinga district administration centre has been completed and various government departments have already occupied the offices.
According to Mr Yamishi, the occupation of the new offices byÂ government departments has facilitated smooth service delivery to the local people.
The civic centre built by G.R.V Limited at a cost of K4 million will soon be opened and 10 medium-cost houses for the Mafinga District Council are under construction.
Ten medium-cost houses for district heads of government departments have been constructed at a cost of K6.4 million while construction of 20 low cost housing units are at slab level.
The post office that has been constructed by Power Surge Contractors Limited is a masterpiece.
â€œThe post office that we have is a beautiful structure. It has also accommodated banking facilities and it is about 70 percent complete,â€ Mr Yamishi said.
A police station is also under construction in Muyombe area at a total cost of K2.1 million.
Government under the Link Zambia 8,000 project is tarring the Isoka-Muyombe-Chama-Lundazi road at a cost of K331 million.
Under lot one of the project which covers 73 kilometres from Isoka to Kampumba, the works are being undertaken by China Jianx Construction.
China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation is working on lot two which covers a stretch of about 93 kilometres from Kampumba to Muyombe.
China Jianx Construction has also subcontracted China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to work on a stretch of about 25 kilometres in the Chilumbi Mountains.
PART of the section of the Isoka-Muyombe road being worked on.
â€œThat is the most tricky part of the project and the contractors are on the ground digging and levelling. So much work has been done,â€ Mr Yamishi said.
A stretch of 50 kilometres between Isoka and Muyombe has already been tarred while the rest of the section has been gravelled, the development that has cheered motorists.
When construction of the road is completed, Mr Yamishi said, Mafinga will be opened up and attract economic activities, development and investment.
Mr Yamishi also said a stretch of 25 kilometres of township roads will be tarred as part of developing the new district.
Mafinga is predominantly an agricultural region. There are 23,567 small-scale farmers growing maize, beans, rice, millet, groundnuts, tobacco and cassava.
They also venture into fish farming and rear cattle, goats and chickens.
According to Mr Yamishi, the government is fully involved in the agricultural activities through the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) and the Food Reserve Agency, which offers market services for the farm produce.
Construction of the first hospital in Mafinga commenced in September 2015 at a cost of K12.4 million. Government has engaged Huachang Limited to undertake the project.
The facility will be a replica of the Michael Chilufya Sata Hospital in Mpika. This project includes the construction of 10 staff houses.
Mafinga currently has five health posts and four rural health centres.
Of the 650 health posts the government is constructing countrywide, Mafinga will have a share from those that will be built in Itontela, Temwanani, Choma, Katanga, Mpalayi, Jombo and Chitapo areas.
The district has four secondary schools, 50 primary schools, 23 pre-schools, 17 community schools, nine adult learning centres and eight open learning centres.
District education board secretary Malango Sichilima said Mafinga also has 74 secondary school teachers out of the districtâ€™s staff establishment of 116. There are also 223 teachers out of the required 525.
Most of the schools in Mafinga have been upgraded and this has presented new challenges of shortage of furniture, learning aids as well as accommodation for teachers.
â€œWe still need more desks and infrastructure. But we are happy that we are receiving desks and learning materials in Ichibemba, science, social studies, computer studies, business studies, English and home economics,â€ Mr Sichilima said.
Under the governmentâ€™s infrastructure development project, three primary schools in Napela, Vilulu and Muyeye, staff houses and VIP toilets are under construction.
District forestry officer Kennedy Banda said Mafinga is a source of the Luangwa River, making it a potential tourist destination.
There are also ecological sites such as Mafinga, Mukutu and Mpando hills as well as the Finga Hills Falls which are potential sites for tourism.
These landmarks, Mr Banda said, offer tourism activities such as sightseeing, mountain hiking and camping.
Mwenewesi and Malugule hot springs, in addition to wild animals such as monkeys in the Mafinga Hills and Hyenas in Thendele area, also offer potential for tourism.