Dual Launch of Community-led Rural Epicenter and Zambia National Chapter of the Movement for Community-led Development

The first week of October, 2019 was marked by a wave of momentum for community-led development in Zambia.

(In the featured image above, Mrs. Kabamba and Nikki McCullagh sign the banner).

On Monday, a groups of 30 diverse development practitioners convened to spend a day learning-by-doing about systems thinking and practice, including mapping the Zambian specific “systems that produce community-led development.” The analysis of the maps led to a wealth of ideas of how to shift the power in Zambia to communities so they can partner with government and the private sector to realize their dreams. 

On Wednesday, also in Lusaka, 23 major stakeholders comprising civil society organizations, government ministries, the University of Zambia, and private sector companies gathered at the offices of Restless Development to co-host a well-attended event launching the Zambia chapter of the Movement. Mrs. Pamela Kabamba, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services headlined the event as she pledged Zambian government support for the Movement and all it stands for. The enthusiasm for this effort was captured in a joint signing of a Movement banner by the scores of attendees.

On Friday, 550 kilometers away, hundreds of community members of the rural district of Vubwi gathered in a field that has been donated by the community: the site of a future epicenter–an integrated, community-led hub that will ensure all of the women, youth, men and children can gain access to the opportunities and services needed to form their community vision and priorities, and make them a collective reality. Representatives of several ministries and the Office of the President made the long journey from Lusaka–including several hours over difficult roads–to participate in the launch of the epicenter project which will serve as a demonstration project of community-led development in decentralizing Zambia. Partnering with the community are three civil society organizations: The Hunger Project, The Heifer Project, and Restless Development. 

Chief Pembamoyo, the paramount traditional leader of the local people, is an ardent supporter of the project, characterizing it as a “dream come true” for the 55,000 residents of this neglected area. The district commissioner, Ms. Enelesi Banda, also was a featured speaker. Songs, dancers and skits captured the spirit of the day. Also present were members of the McCullagh family of Australia, who are funding the extended effort, in partnership with the people of Vubwi, and also as a way to lay the groundwork for national scale community-led development in Zambia.