Iceland to Implement K11bn Development Program in KK
Planned development activities of the K11 billion Nkhotakota Basic Services Program One, expected to run with funding from the Icelandic government for four years, have been presented to stakeholders during meetings held Monday and Tuesday in the district.
Described as a landmark intervention by officials from the Icelandic government, the Ministry of Local Government and at the district level, the program has brought hope that public services in sectors that include health, education as well as water and sanitation will be transformed.
Program Director for the Embassy of Iceland in the country, Kristjana Sigurbjornsdotlir told Zodiak Online that the program aims at enabling the council to successfully implement its development plans.
“The program will support the council by strengthening its capacity to deliver basic services that it has been failing to do. It will support addressing some of the gaps in the implementation of the District Development Plan with financial and human resources,” she said.
According to Sigurbjornsdotlir, the program has special focus on people in hard-to-reach areas of Nkhotakota district such as Lupachi.
“People under all the nine traditional authorities will see some development support but specific areas will see sanitation activities and water infrastructure. Education will have fifteen schools that will be holistically supported. The distribution in health will also be across the district but also in areas that need support the most, like Lupachi,” she explained.
Nkhotakota District Council Acting Director of Planning and Development Allick Munthali unpacked the planned program activities in a presentation made during a full council meeting Tuesday.
According to the presentation, the education sector in the district will have construction of classrooms, sanitary facilities, offices and staff houses, procurement of desks, recruitment of auxiliary teachers, introduction of a school feeding program targeting eight schools and increasing access to clean water.
In the health sector, there are plans to construct a Fistula Treatment Unit at Nkhotakota District Hospital, 45 health personnel will be recruited, procurement of computers and there are plans to construct some health facilities.
Water and sanitation is another area expected to receive massive support. There will be drilling of boreholes with some communities accessing piped water which will enable them establish water associations.
The program also intends to support water quality testing in 1000 water sources, a measure being regarded as crucial in the prevention of waterborne diseases such as cholera.
There is also support going to Nkhotakota District Council Secretariat in areas that include infrastructure, procurement of vehicles as well as procurement of a new Integrated Finance Management Information System (IFMIS) server. Some new council workers will also be hired.
The program has a component of supporting a feasibility study for the construction of a Lake Jetty in the district.
Other areas expected to receive support are youth empowerment and improving the welfare of persons with disabilities.
The Iceland government has since partnered with two organisations, GIZ and Gender Justice Unit, to carryout environmental conservation activities and gender interventions respectively under the program.
In an interview, Nkhotakota District Commissioner Ben Tonho said all sectors expected to handle the program at the district level, are ready to implement the activities in a transparent manner.
“We are very much prepared. We started the process in 2021 and now we are ready to start activities. We will get around K11 billion in the first phase of the program. As of now, we have explained all the activities to the District Executive Committee members, we would like to take everyone on board,” said the Nkhotakota DC.
Legislator for Nkhotakota North Constituency Henry Chimunthu Banda who represented members of parliament of the district during the Tuesday council meeting, called on the Ministry of Local Government to fill vacancies at the council where a number of senior positions are occupied by officers working on temporary basis.
He argued that the program needs permanent officers who can make timely decisions on crucial matters.
Some of the positions being occupied by temporary officials include Director of Planning and Development and Director of Public Works.
Deputy Director of Planning and Policy in the ministry Sylvester Gawamadzi made an assurance that the concern raised by the legislator will be considered.
“As a ministry together with the National Local Government Service Commission, we are doing our best to ensure that the issue of high vacancy rate is addressed in local councils. We have recruited economists who are supposed to be monitoring and evaluation officers, accountants, human resource officers, auditors as well as procurement officers in the councils but it is possible that some have not reported for duties,” he said.
Gawamadzi commended the government of Iceland for making significant progress in transforming the lives of people in the country through provision of development activities.
The Icelandic government implemented its development program activities in Mangochi district before expanding to Nkhotakota.