Columnists Features

Mpulungu: District with tourism potential

ZAMBIA’S biggest inland port, Mpulungu, shares its boundary with Tanzania in the north, Mbala to the east, Mporokoso in the south and Nsama district to the south-west.
The district is 1,008 kilometres from Lusaka and about 210 kilometres from Kasama, the capital of Northern Province.
According to district planning officer Vincent Chisenga, Mpulungu lies between latitude nine south of the equator and 31 degrees east of the prime meridian.
The district covers a total land area of 10,170 square kilometres.
According to the 2010 national census of population and housing, Mpulungu has 100,000 inhabitants of which 49 percent are female while 50 percent are male.
The district has only one constituency, Mpulungu, which is divided into 13 wards; Mpulungu Central, Katwe, Kapembwa, Vyamba, Isoko, Mumila, Isunga and Itimbwe.
Others are Iyendwe, Chisha, Chilumba, Chilubula and Tanganyika.
The district has seven traditional leaders, who are Senior Chief Tafuna, chiefs Chinakila, Chitimbwa, Nondo and sub chiefs Kopeka and Chombawakasaba.
Mpulungu residents mainly speak Lungu. According to Father Anderezeji Halemba in his English-Mambwe dictionary and Mambwe grammer book, the Lungu people originated from the Luba Kingdom in present day Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Lungu people celebrate the Ukwalama traditional ceremony at Walamo on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
The Lungu and their neighbours, Mambwe, also celebrate the Mutomolo traditional ceremony, which takes place on the shores of Lake Chila in Mbala. The ceremony is associated with crop harvest season.
Mpulungu’s main economic activity is fishing, which is characterised by a number of companies that operate along the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
Mr Chisenga, the district planning officer, however, says some fish species have depleted owing to bad fishing methods by the local people, who use mosquito nets and explosives.
“About 70 percent of Mpulungu’s population depends on the fishing business. Much has not been done to diversify Mpulungu’s economic activities apart from the emerging agricultural activities,” he said.
Some of the major factors hampering the growth of Mpulungu are the lack of manufacturing and processing industries and large-scale mining activities other than sand mining and stone quarrying.
The district is endowed with abundant natural resources, which include wildlife, water bodies and mountains.
Some of the major tourist attractions are Lake Tanganyika, which is the second deepest lake in the world with a wide variety of biological resources, the Lufubu and Lunzuwa rivers and the high mountain along the lake.
Despite the presence of such attractions, Mr Chisenga says the district experiences a low flow of tourists.
“There are a number of tourist attractions in the district but with a low flow of tourists because most of these attractions are undeveloped,” he says.
Mr Chisenga also says poor marketing strategies, inaccessible tourism infrastructure, undiversified tourist products and unmarked and unsurveyed historical sites also inhibit tourist visits to the district.
However, something positive is taking shape. The government is developing Kasaba Bay, which is another major tourist attraction.
“To further boost tourism, the district is working towards improving the roads leading to the tourist sites. It is also promoting investment in the sector and development of communication facilities at tourist sites,” he says.
Mpulungu is enjoying a fair share of the national cake in terms of infrastructure development.
Out of a total of 125 kilometres of roads earmarked for construction by the end of this year, works on 74 kilometres have already been completed.
Mpulungu has township roads that have recently been tarred and the government has engaged a contractor to upgrade another nine kilometres of township roads.
District commissioner Dennis Sikazwe says the government has finished constructing a district hospital.
Construction of seven community health posts by the government is also under way and is expected to be completed by June this year.
Mr Sikazwe also says the government has engaged a new contractor to work on a project to improve water supply and sanitation in the district.
He says the government has also expanded the Mpulungu Harbour in a bid to enhance efficiency in its operations.
The district has a high burden of diseases, especially communicable ones such as malaria, HIV and AIDS as well as tuberculosis.
Mr Chisenga says Mpulungu also has had high maternal, neonatal and child morbidities and mortalities in the recent past.
“However, over the past five years, the sector has recorded significant progress in key areas of health service delivery and support systems facilitated by government, leading to major improvements in most key health performance indicators,” he says.
And over the past three years, Mpulungu has seen a noteworthy reduction in cholera cases, with no single outbreak recorded during the current rainy season.
Mpulungu has 80 schools, which include 43 primary schools, one government day and a boarding secondary school, 31 community schools and four private schools.
Mpulungu member of Parliament Freedom Sikazwe says government is constructing more schools and upgrading others to secondary level to create more space for learners.
Overall, Mpulungu is a growing and attractive district which needs marketing so that more revenue can be earned, especially from the tourism sector, because the district has potential to be the second largest tourist centre after Livingstone.

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