Introducing Zambia’s agents of change

Published: Jan 19, 2021 Reading time: 4 minutes
Introducing Zambia’s agents of change
© People in Need

Although Zambia was recording impressive economic growth until just a few years ago, the recent period of prosperity has not translated into improved socioeconomic conditions for the majority of Zambians. Lacking an active and engaged civil society, Zambia still lags behind many African countries in education, health care, infrastructure, and employment opportunities. In fact, many Zambians have trouble accessing quality services, particularly in the country’s rural areas.

Empowering civil society voices

To bring citizen action to the two poorest and most remote provinces in Zambia, People in Need (PIN) is working together with the Mansa District Land Alliance (MDLA) to engage local civil society organisations (CSOs), communities, and policymakers. The purpose of the three-year “Strengthening citizen action to improve democratic governance in Luapula and Western Provinces” project, funded by the European Union, is to accelerate the implementation of key reforms to improve service delivery for Zambian citizens.

In 2021, the project’s final year, the team will deliver activities built around three main pillars:

  • Training local CSOs on good governance and how to successfully manage projects, fundraise, and represent their communities;
  • Connecting these organisations into a powerful network to make their voices even stronger; and
  • Helping CSOs lobby the government on behalf of the local people.

In each of the target provinces, PIN and MDLA works with 15 local, non-governmental organisations that have been part of the project since its inception in 2019. Each organisation receives a training package tailored specifically to their needs, participates in networking events, and lobbies the government for key changes to improve the lives of ordinary Zambians.

Real people, positive change

PIN believes in empowering local actors, and for this reason, the organisation acts merely as a facilitator, bringing out the best of the local CSOs and helping them to achieve positive change. To this end, PIN organised a five-day training on proposal development and grants management, with the aim of providing the participants with the skills to effectively fundraise for their operations and manage their grants efficiently.

Below, meet some of the participants of that training – the local heroes standing up to represent the many people living in Zambia’s remote areas.

Violet Mutetelwa Kakanda

Violet Mutetelwa Kakanda is a member of Teacher Response Against Child Abuse. Thanks to the trainings provided by PIN, Mutetelwa realised that her organisation should not be proposing its own solutions, but rather working to identify grassroots solutions developed by community members. She now sees the importance of involving various local stakeholders in projects, as they are intimately familiar with the area and its people.

Allan Chinambu

Allan Chinambu is a project coordinator for the Cashew Growers Association Zambia. Chinambu credits the PIN trainings with teaching him how to identify problems at the community level, and to write proposals that focus on the real needs of the community.

You can read Chinambu’s full story here:

Federico W. Mikosa

Federico W. Mikosa, Education and Training Officer at the Namuso Community Development Organisation, has gained the skills to develop a communication strategy for the organisation’s current project. Mikosa is also planning to approach PIN with the idea of writing a joint proposal on improving the livelihoods of rural Zambians by preventing the spread of infectious cattle diseases.

Dorcas Silumesi

Dorcas Silumesi works with Oasis for Better Life Zambia. Silumesi found the training modules on engaging policymakers and community members during project design and implementation as the most valuable. She is now confident that she can improve her organisation´s approach to engagement with policymakers.

Jeff S’inonge

Jeff S’inonge works as a field officer with the Youth Activists Organisation. S’inonge has learned the importance of having a strategic plan for his organisation, and now has the tools and know-how to develop such a plan.

Layanda Nawa Ignatius

Layanda Nawa Ignatius, Executive Director of the Youth and Child Care Foundation, has committed to applying what he has learned about proposal development and grant management to ensure that resource mobilisation becomes a regular part of his organisation’s work. He has also learned to appreciate that up-to-date strategic plans are likely to increase donor support and funding.

Next steps

Throughout 2021, the project’s final year, PIN will focus on helping local CSOs put their newfound knowledge into practice. In December 2020, as part of the project, a number of organisations applied for grants from PIN. The five best proposals were selected, and these projects, with a combined value of 10,000 EUR (260,000 CZK), will last between six and 10 months. They will focus on the sustainable use and management of natural resources, communication, gender responsive farmer input support, the empowerment of women and youth through cashew production, and increasing citizen participation in democratic governance. PIN will provide on-going support and additional hands-on trainings through the end of the project. PIN has also begun to map out how to engage and further support Zambia’s civil society upon the completion of the project.

*cover photo: The participants of the Proposal Development and Grant Management training.

Autor: Zuzana Filipova, PIN Zambia Communication Officer

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