Operation Lake Bangweulu (Updated)

Apr 5, 2022 | Events

We thank sincerely all who donated towards the very successful Recce Mission to the Bwalya Mponda Island and Chiefdom where a comprehensive Medical Mission and FARMSTEW Program will be carried out from the 22nd to the 30th September 2022.

MEDICAL & FARMSTEW MISSION RECCE REPORT

LUNGA DISTRICT, LUAPULA PROVINCE ZAMBIA
AREA OF FOCUS : BWALYA MPONDA
July 31st – 3rd August 2022

Report compiled by: AMON MUKUPA.
Checked & Edited : H. ZEBRON

Maps – Bwalya Mponda, Lunga District

Reconnaissance Report

The following is a report of the study that was undertaken in preparation for the forthcoming Mission to Lunga District of Luapula Province. This Recce Mission was to be undertaken in all the areas of the District but was only done in one village, Bwalya Mponda.

The Report will be of great importance for the planning, organisation and running of the mission as it  will help in the logistics and the knowledge of the area. The former document gave some of the information which was checked and verified by the fact-finding team.

Luapula Province is one of the least developed provinces in Zambia. This would give an ideal picture of the development levels in the Bangweulu Wetlands. The wetlands were organised into a District in 2012 from Samfya District and that saw the birth of Lunga District politically.

The District lacks a lot of development, goods and services; and faces challenges due to a number of reasons, one of them being its accessibility. For example, any complications in the childbirth process will mean a mother has to undergo 2-3 hours on water and 2-3 hours before Samfya where she can be attended to.

Another example will be how the team travelled to Bwalya Mponda Island as it took 2 days to reach the village due to difficulties in transport.

Of all the Islands in the Bangweulu wetlands, Kasoma Lunga is the most developed and houses the District Administration Officials, a district Hospital (with few facilities), Police, a number of schools and lots of Government workers. This is followed by Nsamba, which was the first to have a secondary school in the district.

The Village

The team visited Bwalya Mponda. Bwalya Mponda is under the Chiefdom of Chief Bwalya Mponda. It is the closest to the mainland and is the most easily accessible Island in the Bangweulu wetlands. Based on the voter register, Bwalya Mponda has over 5000 people living on the Island. Mostly made up of females and children. It has a traditional family setup of living in extended families of approximately 8 per household.

Bwalya Mponda Island or village gets most of it’s supplies from either Chinsanka Harbour or Samfya. The village source of income is fishing and farming (Rice). The most grown crop is Rice, followed by Cassava and beans with few people having vegetable gardens.

The village has a School and a Rural Health centre. The health centre is the second biggest health facility in the District with only a laboratory that is currently only doing TB tests. It serves about 6 surrounding villages.

This, as can be seen, cannot help the challenges of health and good nutrition which must be considered a priority. Added to this, the Chiefdom is struggling with the illegal practice of Child marriage, inadequate schooling facilities and diseases that are rampant especially in the hot season.

Poverty levels are very high with very few people literate.

Worth noting is the fact that people in this area believe very much in witchcraft and the practice of it.

Getting to Bwalya Mponda

In order to get to Bwalya Mponda; the team will have to get to Samfya, then Chinsanka by road, where they will get on a boat for at least 3 hours. In other words, it takes about 18 hours to reach the Bwalya Mponda Island from Lusaka when water transport is readily available.

Depending on the load and the type of boat used, a trip that takes 2-3 hours on water may become a 4-16 hours journey from Chinsanka to Bwalya Mponda Island. The levels of water in the channels also play a major role in the quick accessibility of the Island. That is, the more water the faster and vice versa as well as the size of the engine used in the case of engine propelled boats, and the number of people paddling if using a paddling boat.

The trip to Bwalya Mponda Island was a good challenge as it provided a clear roadmap and picture of how things are in the quest to reach the place. This provided the following recommendations;

  1. In order to move properly the equipment and Missionaries to and from the destination, there is need to hire a boat for all travel. This is because if we are to move with the public transportation provided to the locals, it may take more than 3 days to reach the village. The boats move only once a day from one direction to another, ie, from Bwalya Mponda to Chinsanka in the morning from around 9hrs and from Chinsanka to Bwalya Mponda Island in the afternoon to evening. In order to allow for easy movement, the team recommends to have either of the following means of getting to the village.
    • Travel by road from Samfya to Chinsanka and hire a boat for the period required and provide fuel for the entire period the mission will be.
    • Book a boat from Samfya to Lunga whose pricing was not established.
  2. In order to organise properly for all logistics for the mission, there is need for an advance team which can work with the locals in the organisation of the mission logistically. This team can then work with the local Church Elder, Elder Gift Chola who was helpful during the reconnaissance mission. It would carry all the Tools and equipment and then set up the Clinic Tents (3.0×3.0m) and include organising Toilets and Showers, Kitchen and eating area.
  3. Most of the things to be used during the mission should be brought from Lusaka as some things are hardly found in the village and Chinsanka.

The meetings held

While in the village, the team held a number of meetings to establish a working relationship with the locals and introduce them to some of the programs planned for the said mission. These meetings provided the team and the mission as a whole a platform on which the mission will be done successfully. They also helped with information that is very vital in understanding the expectations of the locals.

The meetings were held with the Chief, His Royal Highness Chief Bwalya Mponda, the Church leadership, the Health workers, the School management and some of the locals. As a result of these meetings, the following were assured for the mission…

  • Support from the Chief
  • The School premises for pitching tents that should work as Clinics, classes, and Sleeping Tents.
  • The assured coming of the people for the program
  • The provision of useful and helpful information for successfully holding of the mission
  • The holding of evangelistic meetings if required.
  • The assured help of the locals to reach the far places where there are people in need.

Health

The village has lots challenges in health provision due to the reasons as stated earlier. One other reason may be also the lack of personnel who are willing to stay in the area. Though the village has a rural health centre, however, as in most centres they have similar challenges in supply of medicines and the like.

Besides Bwalya Mponda itself, the village neighbours Muntoni Village which is about 8-12KM away but does not have a health provision facility. This makes Bwalya Mponda village a centre to other villages that do not have health facilities.

From the interaction with the locals, the following health issues were brought forward.

  • Scabies
  • Blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Malnutrition is very common in Children and the those with chronic diseases.
  • Malaria
  • Typhoid, dysentery are very common especially during hot season.
  • Cataracts and Trachoma are very common

On this subject, the Chief asked to be helped as he is currently having a kidney problem.

Photo of the road to Muntoni Village
Road to Muntoni Village

Farmstew

The Farmstew program was one of the major programs that the team did while in the village, and was very successful as seen in the pictures. The locals wait to hear and learn more from the program.

Malnutrition is a key problem as noted above. Even with an abundance of fish most of it is sold and families subsist on whatever they have left over and rice, the main source of starch. Therefore the need to teach every aspect of the Farmstew modules on Agriculture and Nutrition is critical.

The locals only asked if the soya beans were to be given to them for free and if a farming project for the village would be established. The village has soil which can grow soya beans and some locals have grown beans before. All vegetables and fruits can no doubt be grown to change the nutrition for the entire village and thereby reduce on many avoidable diseases.

The Villagers were shown the benefits of soya and a practical demonstration was done on the production of soy milk, tofu (soy eggs) and how to use the leftover from milk production.

Every FARMSTEW Module would be relevant in this Village and by extension to the whole district on account of similarities in their settings. Farming Attitude Rest Meals Sanitation Temperance Enterprise Water.

Source of water and energy

The village has few trees in it as it is mostly a plain. There are a few trees in the areas where people have built homes and most of these trees are just planted. In other words, the village entirely depends on fuel (either wood or charcoal from outside the village mostly Chinsanka.)

Firewood from Chinsanka

Water is obtained from boreholes in the central part of the village however the locals also use the water from the channels where the quality of water can be seen to be the cause for many water borne diseases. Most of the people live near the water and subsist on fishing.

The Villages have great challenges when it comes to energy sources, this means that the charcoal or firewood used for cooking is obtained from outside the wetlands, making it necessary to provide a wholistic solution to manage the challenges of obtaining clean drinking water by heating it and cooking food properly, apart from other uses.

Conclusion

  • This area has unique disadvantages as a consequence of its location and the terrain it is in. Most of these disadvantages can be overcome with the right strategies, interventions and attitudes inculcated to steer the average person away from harmful and unsustainable traditional practices.
  • All the ingredients of Mission needs, are everywhere evident with the added advantage of a receptive community to change.
  • This island is just a sampling of what can only be a bigger or (unlikely) lesser challenge for the whole District and the need to provide an all-round wholistic solution to having a healthy community.
  • Disease prevention with necessary simple and effective methods must be foremost in managing the effects of unsustainable practices that encourage community squalor and this coupled with;
  • Introduction of simple and attainable agricultural practices that encourage good nutrition and lifestyle change, will go a long way to the ideal of a healthy community.
  • All of the above coupled with sustainable methods of Enterprise and good management of resources, can make a village like Bwalya Mponda a beacon for the whole district.

Team Members

Amon Mukupa – Farmstew

Misheck Salifyanji Siwelwa

Brian Ng’andu

Projects

Learn about our efforts in various parts of the country.