Life on the Road in Mongu
Every day, he has to bike for more than two hours or walk for five hours to get to the nearest market to sell his farm produce and buy essential commodities for his household. Kebbian Kabombo, a local farmer, lives in a community called Sopu-Mawawa, 27 km away from Mongu town in Western Province of Zambia. His shoes are always dusty from the commute, and he can’t earn much despite his consistent efforts towards a livelihood.
Mongu is the administrative capital in the Western Province, home to small businesses and banks. The majority of the population are peasant farmers, and not considered to be formally employed. Locals like Kebbian spend the majority of their daily lives on the road, so mobility is key.
Road projects are especially important in this part of Zambia, which is known – rather infamously – for having loose sandy soil instead of compact soil. Major roads in Mongu are paved but are often in bad condition.
Kebbian is one of a handful of citizens who have volunteered to be community facilitators for the road monitoring project in the Western Province. Together with other community facilitators and members, they are seeking to gain access to ongoing road construction contracts and provide useful feedback to the local government and local officers of the Roads Development Agency on how these contracts are being implemented.
With guidance from Zambian CSO network Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR), Kebbian’s main duty is to organize citizens who live around selected roads and administer a community scorecard, so that the community’s feedback can reach local authorities. The hope is that this initiative makes the lives of farmers like Kebbian better, even if that means cutting of the time it takes to get to town by only a few minutes.
This initiative in Mongu is one of several nascent efforts to actively involve local communities – who are the real owners and users of the roads – in the implementation of road projects. For more information on the World Bank’s Good Governance in Roads Project in Zambia, click here.