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Senanga district is located in Zambia’s Western Province, where people earn their livelihoods mainly through fishing and crop farming although livestock rearing is also common. Rice is the most produced crop followed by cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, sorghum, millet, groundnuts and mbambala nuts (monkey nuts) as well as newly introduced wheat.

Women’s rights

In most African traditions subservience of women to men especially in rural areas has played a major role in escalating poverty. Most women accept violence specifically from the husband as a sign of love due to the fact that there is, in most cases, non-existence of knowledge of rights by women. Similarly, traditional court systems perpetuate gender inequality while society reinforces low status of women.

The above has given rise to a situation where most women do not have access to resources such as land and livestock. In exceptional circumstances women DO engage in economic activities but due to the norm of subservience, the production and income realiSed is mainly controlled by men.

Food security

In Senanga district, almost every farming season is punctuated with the perennial story of rural farmers practising on a small scale, getting farming inputs late or not at all because of the poor and sometimes non-existent road infrastructure. The situation is worse for the people who live in the plains where annual floods adversely affect their farms. Most of their fields are always completely washed away by the torrential rains and the floods.

Even though an activity such as fishing is an alternative sustainable economic activity in Senanga, people engaged in this face many challenges ranging from lack of refrigeration facilities which ensures that fish goes bad for the mongers who decide to sell their fish out of the district, poor water transport and exploitative fish prices which are always determined by outside buyers.

Livestock rearing specifically cattle has also been a challenge because of diseases such as Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), back leg and anthrax. Cattle rustling and the low cattle prices which the local abattoirs offer have further worsened the situation. A majority of cattle owners cannot afford to buy animal vaccines thus even anticipate a situation where their cattle is going to diminish as they feel that the government is not making any efforts to counter their challenges.

Education and youth development

Senanga District has 134 schools. Of these, 41 are community schools, 38 are primary schools and 52 are basic schools while three are secondary schools. The average distance of these schools from the communities is between 15 and 20 kilometres. This means that when the Barotse Plain becomes flooded, pupils who stay in the plains also stop going to school because there are no boats to ferry them. Furthermore, most schools in Senanga have poor infrastructure, inadequate teaching materials and lack teachers.