February 4, 2008.
Micah Challenge Zambia was launched nationally in Zambia on 4th August 2007 in Lusaka.This was followed by a Copperbelt launch on 27th August 2007 and North Western Province on November 20th 2007. This report contains the contents, process and outputs of the launch of Micah Challenge in Luapula Province on February 4th 2008. The provincial launches are meant to introduce the work of Micah Challenge to the churches and to lay a foundation of District Steering Committees. District Committees will be the main vehicles to advocate for the achievement of MDGs at district level. Then their efforts will be picked up by Micah Challenge to ensure that the government knows what is happening in districts.
Luapula province is located on the northern part of Zambia and lying between latitudes 8 degrees and 12.4 degrees south. It covers 50, 567km/sq of land and mass. And it has five main physical features; plateau, the lake, rivers, the valley and the swamps; altitude ranges from 900m above sea level in the valley to 1,300m on the Kawambwa plateau. The land is well watered with a normal rain season which runs from October to April.
Martin Kapenda, Campaign Coordinator for Micah Challenge Zambia, introduced Micah Challenge Zambia – its goals and vision for the future. In his introduction, Martin started off by giving the example of Jesus when he began his public ministry. Christ read from the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor…” Indeed, this good news is for the poor, the afflicted, and the oppressed.
Martin went on to remind the people that this good news is for the over 80% of the twelve million people who live in Zambia; because these were the ones who live on less than a dollar a day. They are the poor, the afflicted and the oppressed.
“My dream”, he said, “is to see a day when Micah Challenge Zambia will be fully established in Zambia because there will be a strong voice from the church to campaign for justice for the poor, the afflicted, and the oppressed”.
He echoed the fact that it was God’s challenge to us, to be his agents of hope in this hurting world. And that It was God’s challenge through us, to global leaders in every sphere of life, to play their part in securing a more just and merciful world.
Mr. Clement Siame, the acting permanent secretary for Luapula province gave his key note address on behalf of the provincial minister. He said it was an honour that for the first time Luapula was considered among the first places to launch such an important organization; claiming that many are the times that Luapula is last or even not remembered. “It is indeed a great honour to be considered among the first provinces for Micah Challenge launch, we rarely have such consideration”, he said.
In his speech, the acting PS reiterated the government’s total commitment to the well being of its people. He said that the government of Zambia was doing all that is necessary to meet the MDGs. “For example” he said, “the government has put the National HIV/AIDS Policy in place to guide us in the fight against the pandemic. So far there are over 100,000 people receiving free ARV treatment”. He was however, quick to say that the government alone cannot do everything; hence the need for the church and the civil society to partner with the government to meet the many challenges facing the people.
He further reminded the delegates that our nation is endowed with natural riches that need to be explored for our betterment. However, he conceded to the fact that we do not have the financial resources to explore the natural wealth we have, hence the need for foreign investors.
He also informed delegates that, being at the mid point between the adoption of the MDGs and the 2015 target our collective record is mixed. There is a clear need for church leaders to take urgent and concerted efforts, or many millions of people in Zambia will not realize the basic promises of the MDGs in their lives.
In conclusion, he urged the church to partner with government and political leaders in achieving the MDGs. He said to achieve the MDGS, Zambia needs everyone; young people, religious leaders, environmentalists, unions, and civil society organizations to work together and make sure the goals become a reality.
Hansen and Samuel, from the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR), a non governmental organization based in Luapula but having branches in six other Zambian provinces.
They were a timely resource organization for statistical information on the progress of the Millennium Development Goals during the conference. They outlined the primary economical activities of the province and challenges that most people in this part of Zambia are facing.
They also outlined their involvement in mitigating issues of poverty in the province by introducing sustainable income generating activities such as honey farming.
Finally, Pastors and church leaders from thirty-one different churches representing the seven districts of Luapula and other community based organizations from these areas formed groups to discuss at least three issues outlined in the MDGs, in order of priority, that most relate to, and affect their districts. During discussions and presentations, the following MDGs came out as prominent in most of the districts:
MDG # 1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Issues cited were:
-During fishing season, children are taken from school to the fishing camps
-Free education must be provided to the children
-Long distances to schools
-Building community schools were there are none.
-Free education from grade one to grade twelve should be encouraged
-Improve on quality of education
MDG # 5 Improve maternal health. Issues cited:
-Most districts have no hospitals and some unfortunate pregnant women die on the way to the nearest hospital which could be about 12km away and in some instances.
-Transport is not adequate and most of the time it is broken down.
-There are no doctors and qualified personnel.
MDG # 6 Combat HIV and AIDS, Malaria and other diseases, citing the need to have infrastructure so that everyone can have access to VCT and free ARV treatment. For instance, one prominent complaint on this MDG was that, even though ARVs are free, transport to and from the nearest place where they could be accessed adds up making it very expensive.
Since then four District Steering Committees have been formed. These district steering committees are going to lead the church in MDGs advocacy and campaign. In total, they were over 120 delegates who attended the launch.
Micah Challenge Zambia has introduced a toolkit on the MDGs. The toolkit explains what Micah Challenge Zambia is and the MDGs. If you want to download the toolkit on PDF kindly click on the link below.
Click here: microsoft-word-mcz-toolkit.pdf