Rural development and the Zambia Initiative

from Japan International Cooperation Agency
Published on 28 Dec 2005
After more than two decades of extended civil war in Angola, over 210,000 Angolans have fled to the western region of neighboring Zambia, where they live in poverty as refugees. Meanwhile, the Zambian communities where refugee camps have been established face the same poverty but do not receive the external aid that is focused on the Angolan refugees. This has created a sense of unfairness among Zambians and has aggravated relations between the two groups.
With support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Zambian government has taken up the Zambia Initiative, a framework for establishing security and peace among the refugee camps and surrounding communities in western Zambia and to promote growth in the region through a comprehensive rural development program with the participation of local residents. Some 10 aid organizations and governments are providing various types of support for the initiative, but ensuring that assistance actually reaches a population of over 400,000 (of which 150,000 are refugees) will require dedicated efforts.

JICA is also supporting the framework for the Zambia Initiative by carrying out technical cooperation through a close alliance with the human security projects financed by the Japanese government and other aid organizations. JICA plans to support comprehensive rural development at the community level, with the overall goal of empowering refugees and the Zambians who accepted refugees in their community.

Support for several specific activities has been planned: capacity building for the regional development committee members responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Zambia Initiative; instruction for residents in the processing, preservation, packaging, and marketing of agricultural products through methods they can carry out on their own; and improvement of market access for small-scale farmers.

This project aims to improve quality of life for Zambian residents through a wide range of rural development projects based on their needs, thereby reducing the risk of conflict between refugees and resident communities. Through cooperation with a number of different donors and participants, it takes up the task of ensuring freedom from poverty and freedom from fear for even the most vulnerable. Coupled with its emphasis on empowering individuals, this assistance clearly reflects a strong human security perspective.