NKOLE NKOLE, Lusaka
MY TOUR of Lusaka’s Chainda township happens on a hot and humid morning with skies suggesting the chance of rainfall later in the day.
There are pools of water in potholes around the township from previous rains as I am driven into the area.
I first meet a man called Trensio Soko who has been resident in the township for 24 years.
He arrived in Chainda in 1993 and before that he lived near the Lusaka Playhouse, located at the corner of Church and Nasser roads.
Mr Soko moved to Chainda when Zimco Mineral Exploration Department, a company where he worked for 13 years as a laboratory technician, went under.
Today, at 58, he happens to be the current Ward Development Committee (WDC) chairperson of Chainda ward 29.
When he first moved to Chainda it was still underdeveloped. The township’s early settlers came from the area close to the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, to pave way for the building of the airport.
“So the people that had settled in that area were moved to Chainda,” he tells me.
Mr Soko says Chainda had many houses that were made from mud and had no roads. The township’s population was also low.
The township started to develop after it was legalised by the Lusaka City Council (LCC) in 1999.
One of the major changes Mr Soko notes is the development of the water system.
Before the development, residents drew water from areas like Ibex Hill, Avondale and Villa Wanga.
When Chainda was legalised, World Vision was one of the first organisations that began a programme to help improve the community water system.
World Vision also trained Chainda’s local leadership on how to run the affairs of the community.
Before the legalisation of the township, Chainda Clinic already existed, therefore members of the community did not need to travel far for medical attention.
No school existed in the township, so children attended schools like Chelston and Chakunkula Primary School. Later, with support from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Chainda Basic School, now called Chainda Primary School, was constructed.
Today, Chainda residents have access to medical services from Chainda Clinic.
Presently, toilets are being constructed in the township under the Lusaka Sanitation Project, which began with the construction of community toilets at Chainda Primary School and now extends to the renovation of toilets at Chainda Clinic.
The Systematic Land Titling is another development project presently underway in Chainda. Township residents with houses only have land occupants’ licences but under project they will be issued with title deeds.
The project is running under guidance by the Ministry of Lands and all local councils.
“This programme will help us because we have difficulties when putting up roads as people have encroached on the road. Now this system will stop people from encroaching on the road,” Mr Soko explains.
In Chainda, the system began last November. Those residents whose details were captured in November have to verify the position of their houses on a map to see if the construction of a road will not disturb their houses.
The community has also received assistance from the Catholic Church through a five-year programme in which two houses are built every three months for the most vulnerable residents. So far, 16 houses have been built under the project.
Another interesting Chainda son is William Mwanza, who has spent three decades in the township. He tells me he remembers Chainda as a big bush with many gravel roads when he first moved there.
“We see tarmac roads now but not enough schools because the population has grown,” he says.
Mr Mwanza is in the hardware business and he is also a sand dealer. He has been running his own business for 15 years.
He says his business has helped him have a good lifestyle over the years and on good days, he is able to realise profit.
Although he started the business with only K15, today he is able to boast of assets to his name.
Chainda has seen him grow as a businessman, and for that he is grateful.
At age 29, Mirriam Moonga represents the township’s young and enterprising face. She has only lived in Chainda for four years and runs a tailoring business which is three-and-a-half years old and which Chainda’s residents have warmed to.
Mirriam’s main focus is the production of school uniforms which she supplies on a yearly basis to people both within and outside Chainda.
She also sews suits and careers day outfits for school-going children and is now a trusted source of these items.
One of the challenges the community presently faces is high youth unemployment. The township runs a programme of empowering its youth through skills.
Those youths that have completed school are attached to training institutes so they can acquire skills from there.
Zone Development Committee (ZDC) leaders identify those youths that need assistance and compile their academic papers before attaching them to different institutes.
The township also has a challenge with garbage collection. Chainda is subdivided into three parts, and community-based enterprises have been assigned to garbage collection.
Many residents cannot afford garbage collection fees, which has resulted in their indiscriminate dumping of garbage.
According to a document titled a Profile of Unplanned Settlements in Lusaka compiled by Mulimba Yasini for the LCC, Chainda is an improvement area that was legalised on February 16, 1999 by the Ministry of Local Government and Housing under the Statutory and Improvement Areas Act of 1999.
“Chainda is located 16 kilometres from the main post office off Great East Road and operates under the WDC whose major role is to facilitate development and implement development projects in the area,” Yasini shares.
The activities of the WDC include collection of TV licence fees on behalf of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), collection of garbage, carrying out sensitisation activities on important issues and mobilising residents.
The WDC consists of 10 duly elected representatives from five zones and a ward councillor who is an ex officio.
The WDC is also registered by the council under the Societies Act and is governed by the ZDC.
The settlement is divided into five zones and residents from each zone democratically elect 10 people (five male and five female) to form the ZDC.
Two members (male and female) of the ZDC are then elected by the ZDC members as zone representatives on the WDC. The work of the ZDC is basically to identify development needs facing their zones and bring them before the WDC.
As for the meaning behind Chainda’s name, Yasini explains that it is a Tonga word for something that has passed by.
“Around 1966, the settlers of Chainda were relocated by Government to pave way for the construction of the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. The settlers were resettled in the present-day Chainda. This area was an abandoned farmland that belonged to a white commercial farmer who left the country after independence. This new settlement was named Chainda after the previous Chainda settlement. Among the first settlers of the new Chainda were Catherine Lungu (community school teacher), the late Eda Mbwere (community school teacher), Chema Phiri and Chisoni Lungu,” explains Yasini.
The community members lived in shacks made of grass and poles and in some cases without roofs. Gradually, the residents started putting up better structures made of mud bricks with roofs made of thatched grass or iron roofing sheets.
Chainda also had two water sources. There were two boreholes which were fixed with hand pumps and a government mobile water tank.
The water from a mobile tank was supplied three to four times a day and during the dry season, the boreholes would dry up and the residents had to struggle for the water that was distributed by the Government.
Chainda also had no health facilities, therefore patients had to walk a long distance to the nearest clinic in Chelston.
It also did not have a school, so only a few pupils attended school in nearby settlements. Though the area had no police station or security lighting, there were no incidents of robberies or burglary in its early years, according to Yasini.
Residents would sleep outside or leave their belongings unattended without worrying.
Due to population increase and long distance to the clinic, a fully serviced out-patients clinic was built by a service club in 1979.
Politically, Chainda was organised under branches of the state party UNIP. The branches were sub-divided into sections.
These branches and sections were headed by branch chairmen.
Among other issues, the chairmen were responsible for allocating plots to people.
Yasini notes that just like many other unplanned settlements in Lusaka, most residents of Chainda are not in formal employment.
A few residents are in formal employment and one such resident is Treza Tembo, who has been chairperson of the Chainda Neighbourhood Health Committee (NHC) for seven years.
She is considered the link between Chainda Clinic and the community. If there is a fresh breakout of a particular disease recorded at the clinic, her job is to inform the community about it.
She is also leading a group of 110 volunteers from NHCs in different zones.
Ms Tembo has been a Chainda resident for 30 years.
“I came here when there was no electricity and at a time when we were told it was not a settlement recognised by the council,” she shares.
Her entry into marriage marked her arrival in Chainda from Lusaka Province’s Mumbwa area and she has been in Chainda since then.
She says houses in Chainda today are decent in comparison to when she just arrived in the township.
“Previously there were small houses made with tree branches for poles and plastered with mud. The roofs were sometimes made from drums which were cut but now you can see ‘Nigeria roofs’ are there and nearly every home has electricity,” she shares.
Ms Tembo is a mother of six and also takes care of eight children that were left behind by her late siblings.
“The township of Chainda has built me. I have learnt a lot of things. Here I am a psychosocial leader. I am able to supervise some social counsellors at the clinic. I was just a volunteer but through my voluntary work, I was taken for training to be a psychosocial counsellor,” she tells me with pride.
NKOLE NKOLE, Lusaka