BENEDICT TEMBO, Nkeyema
â€œTO the people of Nkeyema, I say thank you so very much for demonstrating your confidence and trust in me by electing me as your first ever member of Parliament (MP).
â€œI undertake to reciprocate this confidence by working for the community and performing to your expectations,â€ Nkeyema MP Kapelwa Mbangweta says.
Nkeyema, one of the newly-created constituencies in Western Province and shares a boundary with Kaoma Central, is a typical rural constituency.
People in the area earn their living mainly from agricultural activities through growing crops such as maize, tobacco, groundnuts, sweet potatoes and vegetables. They also keep cattle, goats and chickens for sale and domestic consumption.
Like most rural constituencies in Western Province, Nkeyema has high poverty levels.
Mr Mbangweta says the infrastructure in the constituency needs to be urgently upgraded, especially feeder roads, bridges, including infrastructure for water and sanitation.
â€œHealth and educational facilities, where they may exist, are in a deplorable state and are simply inadequate to cover the population that has grown over the years,â€ he says.
There is also dire need for proper and effective agricultural extension services, continued fertiliser support and provision, enhanced marketing arrangements for crops, especially maize and tobacco, as well as communication services.
â€œThe levels of youth unemployment are very high as a result of which the youth routinely are engaged in anti-social behaviour,â€™â€™ Mr Mbangweta says.
People in Nkeyema are concerned about the bad state of the Lusaka-Mongu road ,which has gravel patches and has remained like that for over three years now.
â€œThey are concerned about this because the worst parts of the road are found in Nkeyema constituency; that is from the Tate Yoyo Gate after the Kafue National Park up to Mawilo in Sishamba ward.
â€œThis road supports a lot of economic activities between the Western Province and other parts of the country and should under normal circumstances qualify to be an economic road which ought to be treated as a priority,â€™â€™ Mr Mbangweta says.
He says there is also a pressing need to grade and make new feeder roads to link the productive areas within the various wards to the Lusaka- Mongu road which is the gateway to the markets and other services.
The poor state of feeder roads is constraining development in the area as people cannot access the services that they may require or easily move their produce to the markets. The situation tends to be quite serious in the rainy season when areas are separated from each other and it becomes very difficult to use vehicles, motorbikes or bicycles.
â€œDuring that time, the normal thing is for people to stock up until after the floods recede, before they can attempt to go to the other side,â€ he explains.
Roads that require urgent attention are Namilangi, Chivuli, Maloba, Lwambu, Kamiheto and Lihombo.
Others are Maloba, Kambizwe, Shimano, Munkuye Cross, TBZ, Kabyulule scheme in Lombe Lombe, Kampombo and Kanchale on the other side.
The rest are Munkuye Cross, Mimpongo, Kandengo, Mukandamina, Kangongolo and Pundamishako.
Mr Mbangweta says there is also an urgent need to build a tarred road leading to Chief Kahareâ€™s palace at Njonjolo.
Nkeyema has a number of schools, hence the need to build bridges across some streams and rivers which get flooded during the rainy season and makes it extremely difficult for pupils to cross them.
The most important bridge needing the attention of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) is the one at Mabuela River in Namilangi ward because it links communities in Chivuli, Maloba, Kamiheto, Lihombo and Lwambu. This bridge is the lifeblood of the people as it provides them with access to Namililangi on the Lusaka-Mongu road throughout the year.
They take their produce to the markets and also buy groceries for their consumption. There are also schoolchildren from the surrounding villages in Mabuela area who go to Namilangi School on the other side of the river. The health centre is also located in Namilangi.
â€œCrossing the river during the rainy season when the place floods requires us to use a canoe and the charge for crossing one way is K5 per person which the local people, especially the pupils, can hardly afford.
â€œOccasionally, the canoes capsize with the attendant loss of life. Therefore, the need for a proper bridge that can accommodate even big trucks throughout the year cannot be overemphasised,â€ he says.
Other areas that require strong bridges are at Nalumino in Shimano ward at a place commonly referred to as â€œKakula Bridgeâ€ and at Kambwize on the Maloba- Kambwize-Shimano road.
Mr Mbangweta says Nkeyema needs more health centres than there are at the moment because the population is growing at a fast rate.
â€œIn this regard, our people in the constituency understand that it is the PF governmentâ€™s policy to increase access to health care so that people live within five kilometres proximity to a health facility. Currently, the majority of our people walk more than five kilometres to reach a health facility,â€ he says.
Out of the 650 health posts being built around the country, Nkeyema has two health posts, one at Maloba in Shimano ward and another at Kancale in Lombe Lombe ward. This is very inadequate to cover the needs of the community.
Mr Mbangweta wants government to urgently rehabilitate most of the schools in the area as they are in a deplorable state.
There is also need to build teachersâ€™ houses in the constituency.
He says access to education is an equaliser, saying a child in that remote place of Kandengo in Nkeyema has every right to education just like a child in Lusakaâ€™s Kabulonga.
Nkeyema has the most fertile soils in Western Province, and with proper technical agricultural support and marketing arrangements, the constituency has potential to produce enough food to feed its inhabitants and take the excess to other areas as the case is in the production of maize.
He, however, says the major challenge that is there relates to the way the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) is being administered and the attendant poor marketing arrangements for maize through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
Nkeyema used to be the breadbasket for the Western Province. However, the pack that peasant farmers used to receive was reduced and the farm inputs are being delivered late.
Mr Mbangweta says this has greatly affected the farmersâ€™ yields which have gone down significantly.
â€œThis means that peasant farmers are caught up in the poverty trap and are failing to graduate to higher levels. Some peasant farmers complain of the long distances between marketing points. Therefore, establishment of more marketing points and the implementation of an efficient marketing system would greatly help,â€ he says.
A significant number of peasant farmers in the area also grow tobacco, which has contributed to uplifting of peopleâ€™s livelihood.
Peasant farmers in the area keep livestock such as cattle, which would benefit greatly from well-functioning extension services arrangements which are not operating at the required levels.
The provision of dip tanks for cattle and restocking exercise would greatly benefit the farmers to move out of the poverty trap.
Nkeyema faces serious challenges relating to safe and clean drinking water, especially during the dry season when the wells that local communities dig dry up.
As a result of this, young people and women are forced to walk long distances to look for water.
For the larger segment of the constituency, it is very difficult to communicate by cell phone, making Nkeyema fail to benefit from the three mobile service providers.
Mr Mbangweta acknowledges that for development to take hold in a sustainable way, a number of areas in his constituency will need to be electrified.
BENEDICT TEMBO, Nkeyema