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By JOHN SAKALA
The Minister of National Development Planning Alexander Chiteme has urged communities in Eastern Province to form cooperatives and apply for Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Project (ZIFLP) grants to stimulate communal development and empowerment.
The Minister held meetings with various stakeholders in the province after Vice-President Inonge Mutukwa Wina flanked by the Minister of National Development Planning handed over grants worth about K65.5 million to 23 cooperatives involved in agriculture, forestry and wildlife in all the districts of Eastern Province.
Speaking when he paid a courtesy call on Chief Gogo Madzimawe of the Ngoni people in Chipata District Mr Chiteme urged traditional leaders to encourage their subjects to form cooperatives that will enable them access funds to empower themselves.
He said the people in the province should join hands with the Government of President Edgar Lungu to combat climate change and ensure that the country attains sustainable development.
With him were the 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 promotion of unity among the people and creating linkages with the Government that are contributing to development.
In response, Chief Madzimawe commended the ZIFLP Project for the support rendered to the people. He expressed gratitude on the reasonably easy process for cooperatives to access grants from ZIFLP.
“It is encouraging that you are making access to Zambia Integrated Landscape Project grants easier for people in the villages and this is encouraging,” Chief Madzimawe said.
Chief Madzimawe said climate change negatively affects communities and destabilize food security, but was grateful that the Government had put in place measures to address these environmental challenges and ensure food basket and environmental protection.
Chief Madzimawe also commended the Government for the timely distribution of farming inputs.
Sinda MP Masauso Tembo thanked the Government for the grants given to Sinda District Women Association and Kamgelo Gardeners and Fish Farmers Cooperative.
And Mr Chiteme held two meetings with Nyimba residents at which he explained the dangers of climate and the need for all the people to respond to Government support to work of mitigation and adaptions measures.
The Minister emphasised the need for community members to come together and form cooperatives which will serve as vehicles through which they can receive ZIFLP grants to empower themselves.
Mr Chiteme urged other Nyimba communities to emulate Mtilizi Scheme Project and Mwansanika Community Forest Management Group that about K2 million and K1.4 million respectively.
Mr Chiteme was in the company of the Minister in the Office of the Vice-President Hon. Olipa Phiri, who is also Nyimba Member of Parliament, as well as Hon. Katambo and Hon. Tembo.
Minister Katambo assured the people of Nyimba that the Government will continue to support them with farming inputs and support the agriculture sector to ensure food security at household, community and national level.
In thanking the Government for the grants, Chikomeni Community Resource Board said it would use the funds to construct a community-owned lodge which will promote eco-tourism and is expected to directly and indirectly create close to 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.
This is according to a media statement by Ministry of National Development Planning Spokesperson Chibaula Silwamba.