Lusaka, 8th November 2021: The Zambia Tax Platform-ZTP welcomes Government’s plans in the 2022 national budget to abolish school tuition fees and increase Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allocation from K1.6 million to K25.7 million. ZTP however, wishes to urge Government to increase funding of the CDF to underdeveloped areas towards their general development and enhancement of infrastructure.ZTP recently undertook a mapping exercise in Rufunsa District and noted with concern the challenges faced by the district especially in child-sensitive areas such as social protection, health, and education. If left unchecked, these challenges have the capacity to hinder the achievement of child-centered goals in the district.On its visit to Rufunsa to understand how the district has fared in creating structures and utilizing programs towards the enhancement of children’s welfare, ZTP noted the district faced a number of serious challenges. To begin with, Rufunsa has faced challenges with funding towards juvenile justice.
This makes it challenging to implement and support any juvenile justice-focused programs. Child detention cases have been on the rise resulting in some cases, the detention of children with adult offenders, thereby exposing them to potential abuse. Additionally, there are no courts in Rufunsa. Juvenile offenders are trailed either in Chongwe or Luangwa. The limited funding also inhibits effective transportation (fuel costs) to these courts which have necessitated social welfare officers to sometimes make their own transport arrangements to support juvenile court appearances in Chongwe or Luangwa.
General poor funding for most children-centered programs coupled with the vastness of the district is another challenge in Rufunsa. This hinders reach to the most remote parts of the district. ZTP also found that the district experienced a number of challenges that are directly related to the health and education of children; Health-related Challenges 1) In Rufunsa, child pregnancies are still high, they account for approximately 25% of Antenatal Care (ANC) attendants. The health knowledge gap is also very wide in Rufunsa, as a result, some health interventions are not very successful. For instance, due to the wide health knowledge gap, there is untimely attendance of the first time antenatal care and some women and girls hardly complete their ANC attendance. 2) Violence against children remains on the high side. Sometimes, child abuse cases are not reported to authorities due to issues such as family and cultural beliefs. Such cases are often resolved through social agreements. 3) Health centers do not have a child-friendly infrastructure.
Although adolescent services are provided in some clinics, teenagers as children do not have designated facilities. As a result, only infants are admitted to children’s wards whilst the rest are admitted together with adult patients. 4) There are also very few capacity development programs for both health human resources and communities in areas around budget monitoring and right infrastructure advocacy.
1) The pupil-teacher ratio is very high in Rufunsa. This affects delivery as a few teachers have to attend to many pupils. There is also the insufficient and poor infrastructure for schools in Rufunsa. Some schools have dilapidated classrooms and some are even made out of mad i.e. Chinzente Primary School.
2) Rufunsa like any other district has children with special needs. While a few of the schools have classes designated for such children, the district has no school that is designed for children with special needs.
3) Access to most schools is not easy. The schools are widely spaced with poor road networks as well as poor internet and network connectivity. This makes it difficult for both teachers and pupils to implement education especially in times of crises like a health pandemic. For instance, at the apex of the Covid-19 pandemic, teachers used bicycles to reach the remote areas to teach and provide homework written on laminated placards. Rufunsa like many other districts largely still remains undeveloped with poor infrastructure to support the quality delivery of health and education facilities. The district also needs support towards proper road and communication networks which will also lead to improved service delivery for education and health in these areas. ZTP welcomes the move to increase CDF funding but is of the view that the differences in regional development should be considered in determining the allocation. The country still retains a number of areas that are underdeveloped and need more resources if they are to narrow the gap. ZTP, therefore, wishes to urge the Central Government to consider increasing funding of CDF to underdeveloped areas in Zambia such as Rufunsa.
Issued by: Peter N. Mumba (Mr)
Social Economic and Investment Monitoring Specialist
Tel: +260211264409 Phone: +260960454747
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