Capacity Building in Zambia's Western Province

Capacity Building in Zambia's Western Province

Jun 4, 2020

People in Need’s (PIN) mission in Zambia has begun providing much-needed training in capacity building to local civil society organizations (CSOs) in Zambia’s Western Province. One of the beneficiaries of the training has been the Cashew Growers Association (CGA), founded in Zambia in 2007 to lobby the government to invest in and support the growth of the country’s cashew industry as a non-traditional export. The organisation’s aim is to contribute to the economic development of the country, as well as to improve the livelihoods of small-scale cashew farmers. It also supports tree-planting initiatives as a way of improving the environment. 

Allan Chinambu (cover photo), who joined the CGA in 2013 and became its coordinator in 2017, says: “Before we joined the European Union-funded capacity building program through PIN, we managed to lobby the government for a $45,000 USD project aimed at supporting 6,000 small-scale cashew farmers. However, despite this success, we did not know that it was important for us to lobby the government with evidence-based information before engaging policymakers.”

Supporting CSOs with a variety of trainings

To strengthen local CSOs in Western Province, PIN, with funding from the European Union and Czech Development Agency began supporting 15 CSOs selected through a competitive, merit-based process in 2019. PIN’s project partner, Mansa District Land Alliance (MDLA), is carrying out similar activities with an additional 15 CSOs in Luapula Province. PIN and MDLA have been conducting capacity building trainings on topics such as decentralisation, land governance, human rights, policy engagement, social accountability, advocacy, community mobilisation, and leadership roles for women.

The trainings have already produced tangible outcomes, says Chinambu. “Thanks to the training on policy engagement and social accountability conducted by PIN, we have learned about the steps involved in policy development. This helps us plan how we will lobby the government to enact policies that are specific to the cashew industry.”

Kelvin Welesani, CEO and a founding member of the Youth Activist Organisation (YAO), has also seen the benefits of partnering with PIN. YAO was founded in 2009 with the goal of promoting youth activism, mentorship, human rights, and sexual reproductive rights, as well as to advocate and lobby for spaces were young people can spend time productively. Welesani says: “The training in decentralisation, land governance, and human rights was my favourite, as it emphasised the need for people, especially our youth, to be more involved in governance issues. Only then can decentralisation be fully achieved.”

The selected CSOs were also actively involved in formulating the content for the trainings by taking part in an assessment to identify existing capacity gaps. “At the time of the assessments, we were still using old documents and outdated manuals; for instance, our financial manual had not been updated for a long time,” says Welesani. “However, PIN helped us to see the importance of making sure our documentation was up-do-date and properly stored.”

PIN hopes that the capacity building exercise will help CSOs spearhead positive changes and empower the people of the Western Province. “This intervention, made possible through the support of the EU, is a starting point for us in creating an enabling environment for our young people to be able to contribute to the country’s development,” says Welesani.

Chinambu adds: “With support from PIN, we intend to lobby the government to put up a legal framework for the cashew industry in Zambia.” With PIN’s continuous support and capacity building, these CSOs will have the resources needed to continue in their activities and support the citizens of Zambia. 

Author: Namukolo Mate, PIN Zambia Communication Officer