Government workers in Mambwe District have been urged to provide necessary expert guidance to cooperatives that are benefiting from a multimillion Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Project (ZIFLP).
Ministry of National Planning and Development Permanent Secretary Trevor Kaunda says officers must work closely with communities that are beneficiaries under governmental projects such ZIFLP as they depend on them for necessary expertise on the procedures involved in using donor funds.
ZANIS reports that Mr Kaunda made the call during a familiarization tour in Mambwe District where he interacted with members from Tithandizeni Multi-Purpose Cooperative that has been funded over K2.1 million for sunflower and groundnuts oil processing
Mr noted that the cooperatives like Tithandizeni should be helped to quickly expedite the procurement process of necessary equipment so that implementation of projects can start.
Tithandizeni is one of the several projects that have received an initial 25 percent funding from the project funds applied for under ZIFLP to undertake climate smart livelihood projects in their communities.
The cooperative will only receive another allocation from the K2.1 million grant once they exhaust the first installment and prove capability to execute the project
Mr Kaunda urged responsible officers to assist the cooperative so that it can quickly move to the next phase of implementing their project.
He also stressed the need to build capacity in order for communities to be able to sustain them and have projects that are able to run even after the life of ZIFLP.
“Now is the time to be on the ground helping communities instead of being in offices as the work is out there in the communities,” Kaunda said.
Meanwhile, ZLFLP National Coordinator Tasila Banda also called on the Mambwe District Multisectoral Team to help drive the agenda and quicken the process of procuring the needed equipment for the cooperatives.
Dr Banda explained that the World Bank which is funding ZIFLP in partnership with Bio-carbon Fund and Global Environment Fund will only release the remaining 50 percent of the grant to the cooperative once the first installment is exhausted.
The ZIFLP Coordinator revealed that the threshold at which the beneficiary groups can access the additional funds without having to wait on the procurement committee under the local authority has been increased from US$10,000 to US$20,000.
“I am delighted to inform you that the threshold at which you as beneficiary groups can access the funds and start purchasing the necessary equipment on your own using your account has now been increased. You now have the authority to purchase the equipment you want as long as they are within the threshold range,” Dr Banda said.
Dr Banda further stated that due to the delay in the implementation of the projects and seeing that the close of the World Bank fiscal year is fast approaching, ZIFLP will pay out the remaining amount of K1, 616,395.5 to Tithandizeni Multi- Purpose Cooperative instead of following the initial plan of paying them in instalments as projects need to be implemented as soon as possible.
Earlier Tithandizeni multi- purpose Cooperative Chairperson Victoria Zulu expressed worry over the delays by the procurement committee at the district council to complete the procurement of the equipment for oil processing.
“We were given 1000 hectares of land by the traditional leadership so that we can carry out our activities smoothly. We have even worked on 15 hectares of land so far. Unfortunately, due to the delay in procuring the needed equipment, our activities have stalled,” Ms Zulu said.