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Real sustainable development

DEVELOPMENT has so many facets but what is important is having balanced, sustainable development.

The question is, what is sustainable development? It is basically the organising principle for meeting human development goals while at the same time sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystems.
In a nutshell, it is the economic development that is conducted without depletion of natural resources. These goals are shelter, food, education, health, security, and clothing, among others. A family, community or country which wants to develop always has to think of sustainable development.
Actually, this is the foundation of true Christianity; to use resources with tomorrow in mind.
Zambia has in the last 50 years strived to develop, but has it well implemented the principle of sustainable development?
Zambia has a population of 15 million people and we are told that by 2030, the population will swell to 23 million. At that time, the country will have a deficit of three million houses.
To avert this shortage, we need to be building at least 130,000 units per year. This will come with other challenges of providing amenities like roads, security, health facilities, schools, sanitation and clean water.
In the last 23 years, we have seen a scramble for plots to build houses; Zambians have just awakened to realise that it is more important to have a roof over their heads than anything else.
In Lusaka alone, we have noted proliferation of townships that do not have supportive amenities. In 1988, we did not have those ugly shops between the rail line and Kamwala Market. There was no John Laing compound, new Kanyama, Garden House and many others.
In almost all of these new buildings and areas, there are very few that have clean piped water from the council and almost none is connected to Lusaka Water and Sewerage system.
What this means is that each house has a septic tank in one corner and a borehole or well in the other. We are currently grappling with cholera because we are told that the water table has been contaminated with E.coli and most of the drainages are blocked with debris, thereby harbouring contaminated water.
We have increased the population of the cholera-causing micro-organisms in the water available for people. In the quest to lessen the shortage of housing, we have created an imbalance or depletion of clean water to be taken by the people. This is unsustainable development.
We will not heap this blame on anyone but we are all to blame and mostly the council for sleeping on duty. What they needed to do was that, before they could give plots, they needed to mark out the roads, drainages and where the sewer lines were to pass. In the quest to provide accommodation to people, we have ended up creating disasters. Failure number one for all of us.
Roads are very important for the development of any country. Before 1993, it used to take us the whole day to travel from Lusaka to Kabwe. It used to take a minimum of five hours because the road was very bad. We used to stop over at Landless Corner to buy food after having taken two hours from Lusaka. Today, it takes me almost two hours but on Sundays or early in the morning before speed traps are mounted, it takes me one and half hours.
With my Toureg, I would do an hour. This is because the roads are relatively good as compared to what they used to be. However, in the quest to have good roads in the compounds, we have seen very good tarred roads negotiating houses. I shudder to think of what can happen if one loses control.
One road that I always feel like flying above instead of driving on is the Los Angeles Road as you approach Kanyama, as well as the road that passes through Chawama from Kamwala South. These are health hazards and it all borders on giving plots without proper planning. In 2011/12, there was a contract that was given in Eastern Province for one of the major roads.
As I drove along the road during construction, workers were using tree branches to apply tar. I raised the alarm in my column then, that the road would not last, and true to my word, the road has potholes big enough to accommodate a casket of a five-year-old. That is not sustainable development. This also applies to the formula one roads just before the 2011 elections; most of them are no longer there.
There are so many other sectors in which we are faring very badly when it comes to sustainable development. In energy, we have so much water but our forests are disappearing because we do not have enough power to go round. One problem I have observed is that we have allowed politicians to be planners. We should not undermine the importance of education; China is what it is today because it has invested massively in education.
Many of our politicians that we have allowed to plan for us are not educated enough to plan in sectors they are involved in. If they insist to be planning for us, then we need to increase the qualification of one to aspire to be an MP. It must be a minimum of a diploma or ministers should be appointed outside Parliament, and the minimum still remains a diploma for one to be a minister. My fellow countrymen and women, sustainable development is the way to go; nothing else.
This author is an agribusiness practitioner. ftembo2001@