Columnists Features

Namwala strives to cast away rural label

WELCOME to Namwala, where the population of cattle has reportedly exceeded that of the inhabitants by over 30,000.
According to the Namwala District Council, the cattle population in the area stands at 132,797.
The 2010 census put the population of people at 101,589, a development which somewhat justifies why the district’s main source of income is livestock production.
It is the home of the famous Shimunenga traditional ceremony of the Ba-Ila people of Maala, who celebrate it on the weekend of the full moon in September or October.
Namwala is a friendly rural but developing district situated in Southern Province.
Sharing boundaries with Choma, the provincial headquarters, Monze, Kalomo, and Itezhi-tezhi districts, Namwala is located on the upper and low-lying plains of the Kafue River.
Located 170 kilometres north-west of Choma district and 157 kilometres from Monze, the district is estimated to cover a total area of about 10,000 square kilometres and lies between latitudes 15 and 17 degrees south of the equator.
The name Namwala is believed to have been derived from a unique stone (mwala) which allegedly fell from the skies and dropped into the Kafue River near Southern Water and Sewerage Company offices.
With footprints of different kinds of animals, the stone can only be viewed by a few lucky people, when water subsides.
Ila is the predominant language spoken in the area, but English remains the official language.
The district is characterised by dry hot weather from September to October, warm to hot and rainy weather from November to April and gets cold and windy from May to August.
The annual range of rainfall is 800-1,100mm.
The main river is the Kafue and has a braided channel of the Kafue called Namwala River, which uniquely runs throughout the year.
These are the main sources of water for drinking for both humans and animals.
Population distribution
With an annual growth rate of 2.2 percent, the 2010 population census results show a figure of 101,589.
The majority of the population is concentrated in major settlement areas of the district such as Namwala town, Kabulamwanda, Muchila, Maala, Mbeza, Chitongo, Kantengwa, Ichila, Baambwe, Ndema and Itapa.
The district has 14 wards of which Nakamboma has the highest population of 13,974 inhabitants followed by Namwala Central with 11,522, according to the Central Statistical 2010 population and housing census.
Namwala has a government-run district hospital based in the town centre.
There is at least one clinic in each of the 14 wards.
Dominated by cattle ranching, agriculture is the mainstay of the district’s economy.
Crop production is also carried out among the 18,000 farmers, mostly small-scale.
Livestock production is the main occupation of the local people with most households rearing cattle.
Now, the vision of the district is “to become a prosperous and sustainable district by the year 2015”.
Mr Mabvuto says the local authority is ready to take up the challenge of implementing projects aimed at not only revamping the district’s economy, but also to improve the welfare of the people.
Mr Mabvuto said in his office the local authority has since provided a substantial supplementary budget aimed at expediting completion of Constituency Development fund (CDF) projects which were funded in 2013.
“We had some uncompleted projects which were funded under CDF, but now the council has come up with a supplementary budget which will go towards completing  the said projects which we believe once completed will help improve the welfare of the people and subsequently help spar development in our district,” he said.
And recognising that a good road network plays a crucial role in socio-economic development, Mr Mabvuto said the local authority has set aside K40,000 for the rehabilitation of the economically Maala road leading to the venue for the Shimunenga ceremony, one of the main tourism attractions in the area.
“In about a month, the local authority, using the 2014 CDF, will begin gravelling and repairing the 20 kilometre stretch of the Maala road, which currently is in a poor state despite it being a very economically important road as it leads to Maala which is a very productive area in terms of farming and cattle rearing,” Mr Mabvuto said.
Besides the highlighted economic activities, Namwala has potential for economic growth, especially in the tourism sector which has not been fully exploited.
There are very few lodges and guest houses.
“Housing the Kafue River and the magnificent view of the ever-flowing serene Namwala River, this place is a great tourism investment destination. We have a number of lodges, among them Ila and Corner Point, but we need more investors to come and build lodges here especially on the beautiful banks of the river,” Mr Mabvuto said.
The council official underscored the need for stakeholders to help the local authority put in place measures that will revamp tourism in the area such as promotion of indigenous and local entrepreneurship participation in the industry.
He expressed happiness that investors, such as Mount Meru Group, which is constructing the first ever filling station worth K2 million in the area, are complementing the council’s quest to implement projects aimed at beautifying the town while improving the welfare of the people.
“The ongoing construction of the filling station by Mount Meru will beautify our town, but above all, the filling station will subsequently help reduce the cost of goods and services owing to reduced transportation costs,” he said.
He is confident that with accelerated development, coupled with the help of stakeholders, the rural tag that the district has been ‘wearing’ for a long time will be ‘undressed’.

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