Politics and leadership
Mbala district has been chosen as one of the districts in Zambia to pilot the implementation of the decentralization process. However, despite this positive development, the local government has low capacity to implement the decentralization process and this means that it still depends on the central government for revenue to meet its development agenda.
The main economic activities of the people of Mbala are agriculture and trading with 30 per cent of people engaged in formal employment. The community of Mbala District are mostly peasant farmers who grow crops such as maize, beans, cassava, finger millet, ground nuts and soya beans.
Mbala is one of the oldest districts in Zambia but still remains under developed which is manifested through poor infrastructure, a poor road and telecommunication network, lack of investment projects and neglected tourism that can bring revenue into the district.
Only about 30 per cent of people engaged in formal employment. About 70 per cent of the people live in the rural areas.
Although women form the majority of the population, a lack of control over land and other productive activities makes women more vulnerable. The rights of women to access, control and own productive resource especially land which is the dominant source of livelihoods, are largely undermined by the existing cultural and traditional practices that cement patriarchy. This negates the fact that women are the main producers of food.
While there are established structures for women’s participation in council from village level to district level they are weak, they have limited capacity and confidence to take advantage of the existing opportunities to participate and engage in the local government and other governance processes.
Violence against women and girls is still a major concern in the district despite the different interventions by stakeholders like police, the district community service department, and the judiciary and health departments along with a coalition of CSOs to fight the practice. Women and girls still face many forms of marginalisation and deprivation which makes them more vulnerable. However, many women fail to report sexual violence suffered for fear of reprisal from their husbands, social stigma and most importantly to save their marriage.