POVERTY levels in Chief Mwape’s area of Eastern Province have risen to unprecedented levels because of destruction of crops by nearby wild animals.
The chieftainess (Ms Sarah Zulu) said in the past four decades the agricultural base had continued to die slowly due destruction of crops by wild animals from nearby game parks and Game management Areas (GMAs)
In an interview with the Daily Nation in Nyimba at the weekend, Chieftainess Mwape said her area had moved from being one of the most food secure communities a few years ago to one which was food insecure today.
“Our poverty levels and our food insecurity are a painful reality and the leadership in this chiefdom is determined to turn this situation around and make Mwape chiefdom the agricultural powerhouse it once was, “she said. The chieftainess said her area had sound poverty reduction policies and strategies which required a competent administration and functional structures at all levels. “Effective policies, strategies and structures should promote grassroots, bottom-up and inclusive public participation and good governance within the chiefdom,” said Chieftainess Mwape. She explained that while her chiefdom was currently under developed, she was convinced that with extra hard work, weaknesses could be transformed into strengths and capitalize on opportunities.
“Our chiefdom will once again become a safe and thriving community, with a robust economic base and a people very hopeful about the future,
“My people and I agree that we want to live prosperous, healthy and happy lives, and we want to leave behind a beautiful land and a developed chiefdom for our children,” she said. On human/animal conflicts, Chieftainess Mwape said the issue was a major concern in her chiefdom presently.
She said while people valued nature and natural resources including wildlife, in the past two years that co-existence had been totally disrupted because of human-wildlife conflicts which have led to crop destruction, thereby deepening poverty.
“In some incidents they have also led to loss of human life, the lives of my people through attacks by wild animals. I make earnest appeal to our Government to take decisive actions that will safeguard the lives of the people in the chiefdom,” she said
She stressed however that agriculture remained the economic mainstay of the chiefdom, adding that there was however need to increase earnings through value addition.
“For instance we can use our location in the Chisomo GMA to get involved in community based natural resource management and community-based tourism to generate incomes,” she said
She said there was also need to address other developmental challenges such as illiteracy, poor health status, HIV/AIDS and gender inequities in order to fully develop.