UPND deputy secretary general for politics Patrick Mucheleka says once in government, the UPND will implement a rural development policy to combat rural-poverty in Zambia.

And Mucheleka says the UPND government will give defined incentives for those who may wish to invest in rural areas in order to enhance the rural economy.

In UPND’s weekly newsletter to News Diggers! Mucheleka stated that the party was aware that poverty in Zambia remained a profound challenge.

“In Zambia, poverty is more pronounced in the rural parts of the country. Poverty in Zambia, especially in rural areas, has the face of women and the youths who are the most afflicted, compared to men despite both living in poverty. Poverty in Zambia is, therefore, a rural phenomenon. According to the Central Statistics Office Zambia in Figures Report published in July, 2018, the incidence of poverty was more pronounced in rural areas where 76.6 per cent of the population is classified as poor compared to 23.4 per cent of urban poverty,” Mucheleka narrated.

He observed that rural areas in Zambia had lagged behind in terms of development, mainly due to institutional and structural failures and lack of a rural development policy.

“This situation calls for serious reflection by all concerned stakeholders. We must all agree that successive governments have lamentably failed to implement meaningful policies, practical programmes and strategies in the sectors, which are pro-poor and rural-based. Any previous interventions in the rural sector have not had a very positive impact in as far as rural poverty reduction is concerned. Rural poverty levels still continue to be stubbornly high,” Mucheleka observed.

He explained that UPND would demonstrate political will towards the formulation and implementation of rural development policies whose objective would be to significantly reduce rural poverty.

“A UPND alternative policy approach to combating rural poverty needs to be put in place in order to help lift out of poverty the majority of our people in the rural sector. The objective of the policy will be to positively transform the livelihoods of the rural people and reduce poverty significantly. The UPND in government will, therefore, turn round things by specifically designing and implementing specific rural development policy,” he explained.

“Zambia in the safe hands of the UPND will bounce back and use implementing tools, such as the manifesto, clearly aligned development plans supported by well-defined strategies, robust monitoring and evaluation tools underpinned by our party’s mission to ‘accelerate national development through prudent use and management of resources for the well-being of all citizens,’ including those in the rural areas of Zambia.”

He stated that the UPND government would demonstrate practical will to address the plight of the rural population who still continued to wallow in abject poverty.

Mucheleka added that rural poverty reduction would meaningfully take place once the rural development policies were formulated and implemented.

“Rural development and poverty reduction policy implementation will be supported by increased budget allocation and timely disbursement of financial resources. Policy implementation will be backed by strengthened institutional and structural capacity at all levels, including the wards and districts. This would also need to be backed by the implementation of the national decentralization policy, which apparently, was adopted in 2002 by the late president Mwanawasa’s MMD but was never implemented due to lack of political will,” he stated.

And Mucheleka stated that the UPND government would give defined incentives for those who would wish to invest in the rural areas with a view of enhancing the rural economy.

“A UPND clearly defined rural development policy will create conditions and investment necessary for creating alternative livelihood opportunities for not only the rural people, but also other players, including the private sector who will wish to invest in rural areas. The UPND in government will certainly give defined incentives for those who will wish to invest in the rural areas with a view of enhancing the rural economy. The transfer of terms of trade to the rural sector will eventually uplift the livelihoods of the rural people,” stated Mucheleka.