The government has urged communities in Eastern Province to form cooperatives and apply for funds from the Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Project (ZIFLP) grants in order to empower themselves and stimulate development in their areas.
Minister of National Development Planning Alexander Chiteme, told communities that they need to get organized into cooperatives so that they can access funds to improve their livelihoods and transform their communities.
Mr Chiteme said this when he held meetings with various stakeholders in Eastern province where Vice-President Inonge Wina, handed over grants worth about K65.5 million to 23 cooperatives involved in agriculture, forestry and wildlife in all the districts of Eastern Province.
The Minister has since called on traditional leaders to encourage their subjects to form associations in order to access empowerment funds.
In a press statement issued to ZANIS in Lusaka yesterday by Ministry spokesperson Chibabula Silwamba, Mr Chiteme said this when he paid a courtesy call to Chief Madzimawe of the Ngoni people in Chipata District.
The Minister urged people in the Eastern province to rally behind the Government in order to combat climate change and ensure that the country attains sustainable development.
Mr Chiteme was accompanied to Chief Madzimawe by Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo, Sinda Member of Parliament Masauso Tembo and Chipata Central Member of Parliament Moses Mawere.
Mr Katambo thanked Chief Madzimawe and other traditional leaders for their continued role in promoting unity among the people and creating linkages with the Government that are contributing to development.
And Chief Madzimawe commended the government for the ZIFLP Project which he praised for rendering support to people in rural areas through easier access to grants.
“It is encouraging that you are making access to Zambia Integrated Landscape Project grants easier for people in the villages and this is encouraging,” said Chief Madzimawe.
The traditional leader said climate change negatively affects communities and destabilizes food security, but was grateful that the Government had put in place measures to address the environmental challenges and ensure food security.
Chief Madzimawe also commended the Government for the timely distribution of farming inputs.
Sinda MP Masauso Tembo also thanked the Government for the ZIFLP grants given to Sinda District Women Association and Kamgelo Gardeners and Fish Farmers Cooperative.
And Mr. Chiteme further held meetings with Nyimba residents at which he explained the dangers of climate and the need for people to appreciate and respond to Government efforts of climate mitigation and adaptation.
Accompanied by Agriculture Minister, Sinda MP Masauso Tembo and Minister in the Office of the Vice-President Olipa Phiri, who is also Nyimba Member of Parliament, Mr Chiteme emphasized the need for community members to come together and form cooperatives that can be vehicles through which they can receive ZIFLP grants to empower themselves.
Mr. Chiteme urged other Nyimba communities to emulate the Mtilizi Scheme Project and Mwansanika Community Forest Management Group that received about K2 million and K1.4 million respectively.
Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo assured the people of Nyimba that the Government will continue to support them with farming inputs in order to ensure food security at the household, community and national level.
In response, the Chikomeni Community Resource Board thanked the government for the gesture and assured that it would use the funds to construct a community-owned lodge which will promote eco-tourism that will create about 200 jobs.
“The lodge will be established in Lukusuzi National Park. This is the first lodge to be established in this area. Therefore, we are guaranteed that livelihoods in this area will significantly improve due to this initiative,” said the Chikomeni Community Resource Board.