BENEDICT TEMBO, Senanga
THE wind of development is blowing across Senanga in Western Province which has undergone phenomenal growth in recent years.
The district, situated between two newly-created districts, Nalolo and Sioma, was a shadow of itself despite the potential it holds to be the agricultural and tourism hub of the Western Province.
It lies on the eastern bank of the Zambezi River, at the southern end of the Barotse floodplain.
Senanga is on the main road running parallel to the Zambezi River from Livingstone and Sesheke to Mongu which crosses the Sioma–Sesheke Bridge near the junction to Sioma.
This bridge, which was recently constructed, links the northern to the southern part of Western Province. It has brought a number of opportunities for residents on both sides.
Trade and investments have increased. The opportunities, if properly harnessed, will uplift the status of the province.
The narrative for Senanga is slowly changing – thanks to the construction of the Sioma–Sesheke Bridge over the Zambezi River.
Senanga District Council secretary Alisinda Nawa said there are private projects which have changed the face of Senanga.
These include Safaris Lodge, Sea Frog Guest House, Selushimbo filling station, Zambeef, Khondwani and Kashuwa Bus Services.
“Additionally, the beef industry in Senanga has been enhanced by Nasla, Dayow and Zam Zam that deal exclusively in cattle. The district’s comparative advantages lie in tourism and agriculture,” Mr Nawa said, pointing to how the beef processing firms have helped change the landscape of the district.
“The construction of the Sioma Bridge has opened up investment in the tourism and agricultural sectors. Before the bridge was constructed, travelling especially during rainy seasons was almost impossible because the area was rocky and fast running water made it hard to cross. It used to take two hours to cross the river at Kalongola crossing point,” Mr Nawa said.
He said crossing was previously done using canoes, which was dangerous because as big reptiles (crocodiles) would pull people.
Mr Nawa said the Sioma bridge has improved the quality of transport for the travellers as there are luxury coaches deployed on the Sesheke-Mongu route which passes through Senanga.
This has enhanced commerce in the province.
Added to this is the Zambezi River and the floodplains, which have increased business opportunities for local people who depend on fishing for their livelihood while wildlife in Sioma Ngweze National Park and Ngonye falls have created opportunities for tourism.
The local authority has received requests by individuals who seek to invest in the district.
These include the construction of a polytechnic college and a request for partnership with the Barotse Royal Establishment for the establishment of an industrial park in the district.
“The latter would see an increase in requests for investment in the district. Western Province is the least developed province in the country with unemployment estimated at a rate of 91 percent, the polytechnic college proposing to employ about 500 workers in various enterprises while the success of the industrial park would change the economic profile of Senanga entirely,” Shala Mushala, the acting district planning officer, said.
Currently, the Senanga Nursing School is the talk of the town.
“As Senanga district, we are fortunate to have a nursing school. The school has brought value to the district as it has added a number of infrastructures, including an increase in housing following demand for accommodation by the students. The school has also brought many business opportunities to business owners in the district, for example the supply of local rice and fish at the school. It has created employment opportunities for health personnel as well as education to residents of Senanga district,” Mr Mushala said.
District commissioner Vivien Mubukwanu said in addition to the beefing up of personnel at Senanga General Hospital, the multiplier effect of the nursing school has improved the lives of traders, transport operators and property owners alike.
THE KAZUNGULA –SESHEKE ROAD
The Kazungula–Sesheke road, despite being dilapidated, is also an economic lifeline of Senanga as it connects the district to Livingstone and sesheke.
“It is of great importance to the district as it connects it to Southern Province, Kazungula border and Namibia. It gives access to tourism opportunities and marketing purposes. The Kazungula road makes a crucial contribution to economic development and growth and brings important social benefits to Senanga district,” Mr Nawa said.
He said currently, in their state, Southern Province and Western Province are essentially delinked, which deprives both provinces of a number of investment opportunities and returns.
Senanga is a beneficiary of the Pilot Project for Climate Resilience (PPCR) designed to strengthen Zambia’s institutional framework for climate resilience and improve the adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities in the Barotse sub-basin.
The World Bank-sponsored project seeks to build climate resilience for long-term transformational change in Zambia.
Mr Nawa said the most cardinal benefit that the PPCR has brought to the district is that it has assisted people, communities and the district at large to adapt to climate change.
“The PPCR, through sensitisation and facilitation in the identified project implementation areas, has helped people understand the effects of climate change and, as a result, people will be able to avoid, where possible, mitigate or adapt to the identified climate change effects,” Mr Nawa said.
The bulk of the PPCR commenced with canal clearing projects to reclaim arable land that was mostly swampy.
Farmers, therefore, had less land to farm as their fields were covered with water.
After the excavation and clearing of canals, more farming land was reclaimed and this has led to increased agricultural activity.
The PPCR has increased household income, and food security and stability has been enhanced.
To increase adaptability, the project has built a number of culverts to link areas that have been delinked by seasonal floods and washed away terrain.
“Most importantly, the project seeks to help residents branch out into activities that result in enhancing the climate resilience of the district. For example, the district has proposed a tree processing plant with the aim of processing mangoes, cashew nuts and moringa trees. Once the economic potentials are recognised from these projects, people everywhere will be encouraged to plant trees and therefore improve Senanga’s climate resilience. Also, where farmers are unable to grow crops successfully because of erratic rains and unpredictable weather patterns, the PPCR has provided communities with funds to establish livestock ventures to supplement livelihoods,” Mr Nawa said.
Other projects that have been planned under PPCR include tree planting, processing and beekeeping which involves the planting of cashew, moringa and mango trees, the processing of the products, as well as bee keeping in the same forests.
A beef breeding and production centre has also been planned to start the breeding of exotic breeds of cattle to improve the current breeds in the district to breeds that are bigger, stronger and less prone to diseases.
The centre will also have artificial insemination kits so that farmers around the district can be easily and affordably assisted to improve their breeds.
BENEDICT TEMBO, Senanga