There are over 73,000 persons of concern in Zambia, including refugees, asylum seekers and former refugees, many of whom have been living in the country since the 1950s. The project Promoting Human Security through Sustainable Resettlement in Zambia was developed with a view that successful local integration cannot be immediate, as such; it must be planned for and supported over time. It’s overall goal? That communities living in resettlement sites are productive and fully integrated in Zambian society.
Justin Munyaka is UN Volunteer Scheme Coordinator based in Mayukwayukwa Resettlement Scheme, 100 kilometers from Kaoma in Western Province. He serves with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in a Sustainable Resettlement Programme aimed at promoting the local integration of former refugees in host communities, as a meaningful and sustainable solution.
As an innovative volunteer with practical and technical experience in rural development, livelihood promotion, humanitarian and development support, Justin made several achievements during the UN Volunteer assignment. He supported and managed the country office programme component, implementation and coordination of project delivery and liaised with technical sectors on food security, environment, livelihood, shelter, sanitation, water and energy. He developed investment plans to help transform the resettlement scheme into a more habitable area.
Currently, a number of former refugees and the host communities are settled through the scheme with improved living conditions. They have a better telecommunication system and established leadership structures for more effective coordination.
Many social groups are also set up such as community forest management, community champions to manage water and sanitation issues, gender-based violence peer groups and a youth friendly corner.
The community has successfully adopted more climate-resilient agricultural livelihood practices to improve food security and support environmental sustainability. All this has ensured better lives with more opportunity for the people in these resettlement areas – true to the overall goal of the project.
Justin emphasizes the need to provide productive livelihoods, as well as adapt to changing climate conditions. He aspires to be a great educator and a project implementer, and one who is committed to inspire real change in society particularly in rural development and innovation.
Gideon Mbilima is a civil engineer and serves as UN Volunteer Specialist at Mayukwayukwa Refugee Resettlement in Kaoma. He provides technical support and supervises various infrastructure activities in the resettlement scheme, including construction, rehabilitation of buildings, roads and bridges, sanitation facilities, communal spaces and ensures quality control.
"In my UN Volunteer assignment, I have successfully managed to complete various infrastructural projects, which include opening of access roads, developing better sanitation facilities and construction of structures. This has contributed to improving the livelihood of people around the targeted resettlement scheme and to have better access to social services," he explains.
The only way to do great work is to love what you do! The greatest reward in my assignment is the joy that comes when I see the happy faces of the beneficiaries from the implemented infrastructure projects and have the opportunity to use my skills to contribute to the development of Mayukwayukwa community. -- Gideon Mbilima, UN Volunteer Civil Engineer with UNDP Zambia
Like Justin and Gideon, Namakau Litebele, a UN Volunteer Scheme Coordinator, also serves with the Resettlement Project in Zambia. Namakau's work involves coordinating activities implemented by the key stakeholders in local integration, such as Department of Resettlement, Ministries of Agriculture, Water Development, Sanitation, Energy, Commerce Trade and Industry; Green Environment, General Education, Local Government and Housing, Infrastructure; Home Affairs; Health and Community Development and Social Services, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Caritas Czech Republic and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
"So far, I have collaborated with the Department of Resettlement to facilitate the implementation and oversee project activities related to planning and governance, and the allocation of plots in the resettlement," he shares.
"The target number of persons of concern and Zambians who are eligible to settle in the local integration is 4,500. In collaboration with the Department of Resettlement, we have allocated 1,638 plots to persons with concern and Zambians and together with the Ministry of Community Development, we developed a concept note for financial inclusion," Namakau says.
He continues, "the main objective of the activity is to sensitize the community on the importance of saving groups and to create efficient saving groups that will act as a base for financial inclusion and increase livelihood activities in Meheba Resettlement and the immediate host communities. So far, we have trained 107 settlers in saving groups, which has helped strengthen social cohesion among the communities, as members of the communities are able to come together and work towards their status through forming formal groups."
With AAR Japan, an international non-governmental organization, Namakau facilitates socio-economic activities. These include the distribution of agriculture inputs and ensuring market linkages, providing fuel efficient cook stoves, investment plans and advice to individual farmers for sustainable and environmentally friendly land developments.
Namakau trains farmers in joint transportation, which helps them mobilize their produce in one place and list it for sale. He also collaborated with the Forestry Department and key stakeholders on a concept note to establish governance structures, such as community-based management boards for the sustainable management of natural resources. This will further enhance awareness on the sustainable use of natural resources and prevent environmental degradation, deforestation and resource depletion.
My goal is to implement, execute, control and contribute to the completion of Local Integration programmes in the Meheba settlements and in surrounding host communities. I collaborate with Department of Resettlement to support the day-to-day management of the scheme, and to manage and coordinate the provision of infrastructure and socio-economic support services to ensure effective scheme development. --Namakau Litebele, UN Volunteer Scheme Coordinator with UNDP Zambia