Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Lunga: A District Without A Viable Economy

Lake Bangweulu
By Paul Shalala in Lunga

Deep in the waters of Lake Bangweulu in Luapula Province is a new district and  maybe the only one completely surrounded by water.

The islands collectively called Lunga,  were declared a district by late president Michael Sata soon after he was elected President in 2011.

Access to this district is only by boat from Samfya district on the mainland.

By speed boat, the journey takes about two to three hours.

But for those travelling by canoes, it is a slow journey that takes two days.
On the southern side of Lake Bangweulu is a channel that passes through swamps leading to Lunga.

Over the years, this channel has been narrowing and making it difficult for large speed boats to pass through.

Government through the Ministry of Works and Supply has supplied this dredger to open up the channel and allow people to travel between Samfya and Lunga.

On either side of the channel are hundreds of people who live in these grass thatched houses.

These are nomadic fishermen who arrive on this channel around May every year.

They are experienced fishermen who travel all the way from Chilubi Island to come and fish and make money in Lunga.
The channel leading to Lunga

They only abandon these houses when the water levels rise in December.

However, the Lunga speaking people live on the four main islands.

The largest of them is Kasoma Lunga island which is also the seat of government.

This island hosts a school which also caters for the nearby islands.

It is also on this island where Chief Kasoma Lunga of the Unga people lives.

For those with mobile phones, Kasoma Lunga island is the only place where they can make phone calls in the district.

On the part of government, several infrastructure is being put up.

BGC Construction is building 20 medium cost houses at a cost of K9.6 million.

This project has employed over 400 women much to the delight of the area member of parliament.

Other construction projects in Lunga include ten more medium cost houses, 20 high cost houses and a post office.

A modern Police station is also coming up at the cost of K20 million.

A civic Centre is also under construction.
Kasoma Lunga Island

Lunga’s main economic activity and revenue earner is finishing.

However, the fish stocks on these islands and swamps are depleted as over fishing is the order of the day.

The district boasts of several fish stocks which have fed generations.

Another revenue earner which is yet to be exploited is tourism.

This district can also be a big host to other sports such as canoeing and spot fishing which tourists like so much.

A bit of exposure by the Zambia Tourism Board and travel agencies can connect this district to possible investors and visitors. 

With its abundant water resources, birds and aquatic life, Lunga maybe the next tourist destination for the country.

However, lack of exploitation for these resources is posing as a challenge for the Lunga District Council to raise funds to provide social amenities to the residents.

The council is however based not on the islands but in nearby Samfya District.

Despite these challenges, life in Lunga is normal and people here are hopeful of good things to come.

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