Saturday, March 12, 2011
By Kabanda Chulu in Kitwe
Sat 12 Mar. 2011, 04:00 CAT
GAINS in economic growth and democracy in Zambia have not led to a reduction in poverty for many ordinary citizens, according to a senior government official.
Speaking during the launch of the European Union-funded HIV and AIDS nutrition and food security project for the Copperbelt in Kitwe on Thursday, provincial permanent secretary Villie Lombani said there was need for effective and full participation from all stakeholders if real development was to be achieved in the country.
“We are blessed with abundant water and immense forest resources, enormous mineral wealth and vast tracts of arable land and, since 2000, the economy has grown by an average of almost five per cent annually, driven by a policy environment conducive to foreign investments supported by strong macro-economic indicators coupled with political stability,” Lombani said in a speech read by Kitwe District commissioner McDonald Mtine.
“However, despite these developments, Zambia still remains one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 150th out of 169 countries in 2010 on the UN’s human development index, suggesting that the gains in economic growth and democracy have not translated into real poverty reduction for ordinary citizens, 64 per cent of whom are still estimated to live below the poverty line.”
And Heifer International director James Kasongo said his organisation was committed to ensuring the project was implemented on time for the benefit and wellbeing of citizens in the targeted areas.
“In this project, Heifer International Zambia will be responsible for the provision of various livestock types such as goats, draught cattle and dairy cattle; we shall promote nutritional gardens and conservation farming,” Kasongo said.
Oxfam Zambia director Nellie Nyang’wa said there was need to respond and bring about the change people wanted through programmes that would improve people’s livelihoods.
Rev Raymond Nyirenda from Expanded Church Response Trust challenged the church to rise to the occasion and mobilise people in the fight against poverty and diseases.
He advised the church to take a lead in fighting poverty, disease, underdevelopment and HIV by getting involved in all developmental programmes.
“Zambia having over 80 per cent of its population attending church or affiliated to a church, the clergy has an awesome responsibility to amass the Zambians to proactively participate in the fight for a developed and HIV-free Zambia,” Rev Nyirenda said.
“Our participation in this project is truly the church in action, a clear demonstration of the role the church plays in national development, as well as being the hands, the eyes, the feet and the heart of Christ.”
The government, EU, Oxfam GB, Heifer International and the ECR Trust are jointly involved in the project aimed at improving availability and access to sources of food and income for up to 1,500 poor and vulnerable HIV and AIDS-affected smallhold farmers in Mufulira and Kalulushi.