TO promote the quality of life, rural development was identified as a basic initiative to ease poverty among the rural population.
The Patriotic Front’s immediate policy intervention was to target the essential services required to make the Western Province habitable and attractive to the innovative prospective investors.
Here, I highlight some of the policy interventions that have been made which would confer long term effects on the province.
On September 11, 2014, the National Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (NRWSSP) was approved and timeline of implementation was to last for 60 months commencing 2015.
The programme was aimed at providing sustainable access to water supply to 16 districts – Kalabo, Mongu, Sesheke, Shangombo, Kaoma, Lukulu, Senanga, Mwandi, Mulobezi, Sioma, Nalolo, Mitete, Luampa, Nkeyema, Limulunga and Sikongo.
It was aimed at rehabilitation and new construction of water and sanitation infrastructure.
So far, the project has provided water to about 688, 000 people (357, 760 women) and reached out to about 573, 000 people (297, 960 women) thereby increasing improved access to safe water and adequate sanitation of 78 percent and 65 percent respectively as in 2017.
The project was at the cost of US$108 million secured from African Development Bank (AfDB). It also had targeted other provinces such as Northern, Muchinga and Luapula.
In the agricultural sector, diversification was on top of the agenda and the PF government launched the Cashew nut revival programme which was to target about 60, 000 hectares and produce an estimated 46, 400 tonnes of raw cashew nuts whose income prospects is estimated at K420 million per annum.
The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has commenced the process of establishing the cashew nut plantation to enhance sustainable economic empowerment to the local people.
This project has incorporated Zambezi Cashews Limited to facilitate its participation in cashew value chain and was working through ZAFFICO to undertake land clearance and the first phase of the plantation which has already started.
In the energy sector, the Rural Electrification project in the province has seen Mitete being connected to the National Grid. A total of 59 km of 33 KV overhead line is being constructed from the existing 132/33/11 KV Lukulu substation to Mitete at a cost of K5, 953, 000. The project is expected to connect the following institutions among others to the national grid;
– Civic Centre Administration;
– Mitete High School;
– Mitete Rural Health Centre.
In the health sector, Government has commenced the upgrading of the Lewanika General Hospital into a third Level Hospital and this is being implemented in a phased manner.
In the first phase, Government deployed supporting staff, specialised medical staff and has commenced internship training for doctors. The Ministry of Health has also embarked on recruitment of specialised medical personnel.
These are some of the government programmes that are ongoing in the province. It is clear that there is political will to explore the optimum potential the province has for it to have meaningful contribution to national development.
Lungu na Luo will carry on with this continued path to include the province as an active player at the economic front.
MARVIN CHANDA MBERI,