Low-cost housing water supply and sanitation project
Low-cost housing water supply and sanitation project

Has Zambia Made Strides?


By Chanda K. Chishimba

Many people in Zambia have voiced their opinions on the direction that the country’s economy should take in order to raise the living standards of its people. Endowed with natural resources and blessed with a peaceful citizenry, the majority of people are still confined in the shackles of poverty. A greater part of the population is not in formal employment, agriculture remains predominantly peasant, education standards never seem to improve, infrastructure development and maintenance is an eyesore, income levels are low, and hopelessness is the order of the day.

Intellectual voices in the country have decried the lack of capacity for the government and the citizenry to turn development goals and objectives into practical realities. But the question I beg to ask is: What is Capacity Building and how is it relevant to development? My simple understanding of this broad concept is, ‘it is human resource development, equipping individuals with access to information, skills, understanding, and training. It is also organizational development, management of relationships between organizations and sectors, development of an institutional and legal framework, enhancing government regulation and oversight, and laying a foundation for economic and social progress.’ This to me can be summed up as development of a ‘standard way of doing things.’ Does Zambia have a coordinated system of developing the country?

In light of the above, is Zambia then capable of developing a standard to which its citizens can identify themselves? The answer is yes we can. We need the political will of our leaders as well as the citizenry to achieve high levels of development. Zambia needs to develop a cohesive system that is home grown and takes into account the skill sets of ordinary Zambians, the cultures of its people, and the available resources. We need a standard which many people understand, is not complicated and is easily implementable. This idea of trying to copy everything western has led to our current situation. We fail to note that each country has its own traditions and cultures, its own standards, and its own objectives, goals and priorities. Zambia needs to invest heavily in its human resource by upgrading institutions of learning, computerizing schools so students can have access to information and increase their computer skills, providing continuing education to those entrusted with policy formulation and implementation, introducing legislation that requires licensing for any person wishing to engage in financial advisory, teaching, insurance, engineering, medicine etc. These must be licenses renewable every 2 years or else can be revoked. It is not enough just to be a member of, say, the Engineers Institute of Zambia. We need a well knit system that monitors, evaluates, and makes recommendations based on its findings.

We cannot rely on our foreign partners to develop our own system. As long as they provide funding for some projects, they will always have a role to play in how we implement our objectives. Only we know what our priorities are and we are better situated to resolve them. Donors can still be our partners in our efforts, but we need to place them in check. Farfetched as this may seem, if we have the will to do this, our lives and those of our children will surely be improved. It takes commitment and courage to achieve these goals and I am positive that Zambians can take up this challenge with the right political will. Let us realize that we owe this as much to our future generations as we do to ourselves. Development in Zambia will not come without breaking sweat. We can all play a role in the progress of our country. This should not be left to politicians alone because we have seen what happens when we do this. The choices we make today, will determine our future.

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39 COMMENTS

  1. This is a very useless article. Which capacity are we talking about anyway? If it is the capacity of Akhulu Mphuno’s nose to finish oxygen and tell lies, maybe there is some hope. The only development plans RB has is to woo Nigerian infesters. Hellooo????? Please wake up and smell the crap.

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  2. Send those villagers to school then we will talk. As long as they are not enlightened they will keep voting gabage in office.

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  3. The picture sends a sad message. How much water do we let go into the Indian Ocean? How many rivers do we in zambia for us to suffer this water shortages? California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, depend on one water source, River Colorado, and I have never seen a water shortage at all. California alone has the population of the entire Zambian population. What is wrong?

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  4. Chanda you have let yourself down with this article.

    Politicians decide which direction a country takes. You will huff and puff nothing will change.

    I laugh when I see people coming on here saying we should stop looking up to government to provide employment. How sad! If that is the case then we might as well have my nunny as the replican president. After all she wont need to do anything.

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  5. A silent ‘revolution’ executed through the people power is playing out in the country.It is coming out by pressuring leaders to make decisions and take the road they would not have chosen, like sharing of power and supporting the recommendations of Justice Philip Waki on post-election violence. It is also discernible from the forced price cuts for essentials such as unga and petrol, as witnessed this week. It casts the picture of a Kenyan voter — caught in the circumstance where there is no official opposition and rising cynicism on politicians — rising up to be heard.Kenyans pressurised Members of Parliament to eat from the sweat of their brow through paying tax on their fat monthly

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  6. contd,Kenyans pressurised Members of Parliament to eat from the sweat of their brow through paying tax on their fat monthly cheques. Despite their defiant silence and Speaker Kenneth Marende’s declaration that only those ‘sufficiently philanthropic’ can do so, the legal process for taxing them is on the table. The voter simply warned those who resist would meet their political Waterloo in 2012’s elections.When Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Agriculture Minister William Ruto visited Kibera last week for a symbolic PM’s ‘homecoming’, they were confronted with chants for the reduction of maize meal. The Cabinet took action and prices came down almost by half.

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  7. contd, When power tariffs soared to the skies over a year’s period, again the average Kenyan’s loud remonstrations seared the ears of the leaders and the President ordered a reduction, through slashing energy tax. This week, pump stations’ fuel prices fell by about Sh15 a litre, first because of shrinking global prices, but more because of public pressure on The Government to return price controls on the commodity if the dealers held on. Previously, prices hardly fell by the same margin as in the international market. Dealers always retained the old prices, arguing they were clearing the old stock secured at a higher cost.

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  8. contd, “We are going to see more of this as Kenyans exercise their powers. In the next level they will consolidate these powers. They are no longer going to be taken for granted,’’ argued Wainaina.
    Former Kabete MP Paul Muite said ‘real’ change could only come when the citizen is part of the process. He said what is happening in the country is ‘commendable’ and healthy because Kenyans are now demanding their rights.”Change will never come from a few people. Kenyans have realised that successive governments have been of the rich, for the rich and by the rich,’’ Muite said.

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  9. Contd, The former lawmaker said the beauty of the ‘revolution’ taking place in the country is that it involves all Kenyans and there is no issue of tribalism. He said everybody is being hurt by the high prices irrespective of tribe.Muite believes that once the citizens have a proper taste of their power, they will continue to demand more and more, especially good governance. source eastandard dot net

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  10. Make we all smoke the herb and give thnx and praise all day for Jah given we nuf resources in we country. Just need contious leaders to make good use of them. Vote for Rasta and see chanje fe real. Boldheads nah know nutting bot poor people suffring.

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  11. OK enough to the poitical zeal of the Kenyans? The article os about Zambia. Could you critic the article and Zambia? Master New Zambia.
    If your utterance are to be of substance I could only agree that if your suggestion is for Zambians to ask their MPs to be taxed; isnt that just inflationary? The rationale for their salary increase is to bear some of the cost of maintaining contact with the electorate? So you tax them and they will increase their salary so that after taxes they come to the same level. Chishimba’s article is about capacity. Where as so points are valid capacity goes beyond that.
    Zed economy (and rightly put) is pretty much in the hands of foriegners.

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  12. Something that the Kenyans are fighting to control. Of the parastals that were sold what perecentage is actually owned by Zambians that KK nationalized the industries and Banks for?
    Zamtel as we speak is about to be sold and Dora has’nt even though to move Mwembeshi (a strategic instrument) from Zamtel and probably govt can earn and control telecommunications from there. Capacity is real about Zambians having the resources to buy and own stocks land without a foriegn bank one day raising the interest rate as they have the monoploy of the market to control.

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  13. I hate these words like “capacity building” etc. They do not mean anything and can mean anything! Politicians and other bureaucrats can go ahead and use these words but they are communicating nothing to the ordinary Zambia… funny it seems that’s the intention!!

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  14. My plea Sinjoko mwa mbonyi is articulate the inaccuracies of the article so that chaps can see that RBs vision is not about Zambian it is about self and the chaps around him. In strengthen the law, LPM was trying to rationalize things so that the playing ground is fair and systems that had ground to halt begin to work. The reverse seems to be the order of the day. New Zambia with all these subsidies how is govt going pay for them? Yes it shelters the poor but it is also a cost. Is this a progressive culture?

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  15. I think capacity is more than just human resource development in the context that Chishimba meant and if Sinjoko mwa mbonyi could have said more; I suspect you would have seen that.

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  16. I guess for the layman the other term for capacity building would be empowerment and I guess what my colleague is trying to say is that perhaps its time we brewed our own models of empowerment not cut and paste IMF models… True that!

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  17. #5, the population of California according to latest statistics is three times that of our country Zambia. You might have probably been refering to the city of LA. However the above picture is a sorry sight and and i strongly believe THE LORD will come through for us. His ears are not deaf to hear neither his hand too short to help. There’s a purpose why God has allowed people like you and many others to have the priviledge you have today so that somehow you can be channels of blessings to our people. Don’t give up! And that’s why it’s very important for bloggers to contribute constructively, because one day the Dream of a better Zambia will be realised.

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  18. Mingeli Palata #22 that is true without taking any from the author and that the question is to me.
    LOL…Intercessor #23. But I guess what you guess mean about the population is purely from a management and system point of view. California dispite its numerous problems seems to manage its resources well?

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  19. Emlly – Mealie prices can be rightly reduced with FRA off loading startegic grain reserves. Now if you kill off FRA and weaken it? Articles in the Times this week covered an issue about that.

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  20. This buzz phrase of “capacity building” is typical of the malaise in our administration.Surely after 44yrs we still lack capacity to run the institutions of government?Most of these capacity building seminars are useless “training” sessions for the financial benefit of those in authority.Employ competent people and don’t waste time and money on so-called capacity building.

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  21. True #26. I quite like the notion that was put up yesterday when someone suggested that the Zed could follow the US model of cabinet. Where chaps are appointed from outside parliament and Parliament become the check and balance of govt. But then hind sight suggests it is not home bred…right?
    Maybe Zambians are just not as passionate about their country as the Kenyans? I dont know…..

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  22. #4, Anonymous,

    The program of sending villagers to school should also include the Kaponyas, marketeers, bus drivers and conducters, and many in our shanty compounds in urban areas.

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  23. #6 Nshakaye, you don’t know what you’re saying, you seem to have cut off your roots and no wonder your name. Chishimba is quite right when he says we can all play a role in the progress of our country. All we need from the government are educational facilities, from there all else will follow.
    There is no formula for national development but I firmly believe that if Zambians were all educated and worked dilligently to achieve their goals, our country would become a better place than it is.

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  24. Nine Chale #29. Ok lets assume that the literacy levels increase in Zed. Will that bring development? Cause if you look at the Stats of Zed 1964-1974. There were quite a number of graduates but Zed still had to bring Expats. Now that they have even more graduates there are still expats living off Zed while Zedians are walking the streets.

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  25. #30 VW, we’re talking about Capacity biulding here and Chishimba has defined it very well. It is all about equipping individuals, who, when empowered will in turn contribute collectively to country’s development.
    Expatriates are not to be blamed for unemployment because they only occupy the jobs that Zambians are insufficiently qualified for. Here in Germany, for example, they have always had expatriates and yet their unemployment rate has never exceeded 6.5%.

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  26. …cont. from 31. Developed countries are praised for their grand achievements but it is actually the various individual architects, workers, inventors etc. who accomplished these achievements. If physicians like Robert Bosch and engineers like Gottlieb Daimler had not pursued their personal academic careers, Germany would not be the leading industrial super power it is today.
    What we Zambians can emulate from these individuals is their desire to research and improve life in their immediate surroundings. We wont improve our standard of living by sitting at home & letting the gov’t do all the work. We know that our leaders only enrich themselves in office, you expect them to help you?

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  27. What a politician or civil servant understand capacity building to be might be very different. The way I see it, is that institutions should adopt the principle of Kaizen, or continous improvement. Whether that is continuing education for employees, or continuous honing of a business process.

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  28. ” We cannot rely on our foreign partners to develop our own system. As long as they provide funding for some projects, they will always have a role to play in how we implement our objectives. Only we know what our priorities are and we are better situated to resolve them. ”

    I completely agree – which is why it is so important to reduced ‘donor aid’ and start taxing the mines. With

    Also, Zambia should not depend on foreign currency (the mines) to meet it’s basic needs. Zambians should grow more food than they consume, manufacture the clothes they wear and generate the energy they consume. This will reduce the effect of any external shock, ensure full employment and higher incomes.

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  29. 5. Kalos2020,

    ” The picture sends a sad message. How much water do we let go into the Indian Ocean? How many rivers do we in zambia for us to suffer this water shortages? ”

    And flooding – there’s a hint. Excellent points. Zambia needs small hydrology projects, to keep water on the land and available for agriculture and human consumption. Very little has been done by governments to harvest rainfall, and this should be a huge works project. There can be many small projects to dig ponds and swales to store water in the soil for use throughout the year. Cities should have piped water and large natural catchment areas to replenish everything that is consumed.

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  30. I think the major problem we have in Zambia is Zambians themselves. The culture of government dependency is imbedded in the people that they look at government for everything.Let us be proactive as individuals and change our own situations.In this day and age, information flow should be our bedrock.African governments truly lack the will to tackle most problems.They are too reactionary, too lavish on things that benefit a handful of those in power.People, accountability rests solely on you as an individual.

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  31. Nine Chale #32 If you really want to know. The earlier comment that Chishimba recieved will show that his definition did injustice and was narrow. Please look at my eariler comments and you see where I asked folks who saw this earlier to elaborate. Today/Yesterday’s blog about Zamtel will show where Zambians are really lacking. Tell me who controls Zambia tourism? After Norman Mbazima left KCM was there need to bring an experiate? Zambia has chaps like probably yourself but these positions are never widely advertised for you to know that you could be getting a hefty and more rewarding job than the one you doing but in Zambia.

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  32. cont…B/C they could have told investors that certain postions should be Zambianised after a number of years. Just like they wanted to get away with the mineral tax issue after they had been given some years of breaks in various ways they will continue to arm twist the country to get what they want. Bottom line is that Capacity is what you had began to see in Zambia. Chaps getting mortgages cause banks are indentifying them and not the banks sitting on the money and buying TB’s. Chaps are driving like I have never seen them doing before. But this if it had continued, would have spread to Shangombo, but for the death of LPM and the current recession.

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