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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: The future of food security and climate change in Zambia

James S Phiri
James S PhiriInstitute for Eco-Strayegies and Toxicology(IESTO),Zambia

1)            What do you think are the main drivers and obstacles to development for Zambia in the next 30 years

Political and governance issues that are compounding corruption and increasing poverty levels are the key drivers and obstacles to development for Zambia in the next 30years.

2)            Keeping in mind that each scenario represents an extreme future, how plausible do you think scenarios for Zambia are?

Yazanda Scenario-A country characterized by low economic growth and institutions that are weak and unresponsive. Yazanda is slang in Bemba language meaning things are bad.

This looks like a likely description of Zambia not far in the distant future if the current indicators cited in the King’s address are not stopped or reversed. It is a scenario that follows the Mwadyamweka Scenario. Zambia could easily be sliding towards this scenario but it is yet there.

Mwadyamweka Scenario-A country with high and steady economic growth but institutions that are weak and unresponsive. Mwadyamweka is slang word in Nyanja language that alludes to selfishness.

Possible best fit scenario for present day Zambia and if trajectory continues, Yazanda scenario is not far.

This scenario could be the closest to what Zambia is today and may unfortunately be so in the very nearest future and degenerating into Yazanda Scenario. The major constants that could reverse the trend in a long-term will be good political and governance improvements supported by an informed citizenry that would hold institutions accountable and eventually make them responsive and strong. This entails good understanding of power bases and motives of opinion and perception makers who prey on innocent “all believing non-critical minds”. To rid of this scenario, corruption will have to be fought by example by leadership of different national and local structures across.

Kudyela Scenario-A country characterized by high and steady economic growth and institutions that are efficient and highly adaptable. Kudyela is a Nyanja word that means having a good time. - Most idealistic but just a dream certainly not realisable in the next 50years or so.

This is an extreme ideal situation. Very unlikely in another 30-50years because the heavily corrupt political and governance constant is unlikely to change based on the current generation and practices for ascending to power. Much as is what is ideal, it is realistically but just a dream for any country.

Nalimai Scenario -A country with low economic growth but with institutions that are efficient and highly adaptable. Nalimai is a word in Lozi language meaning the unfortunate one.

This scenario almost sounds contradictory because with all the good functional systems, an economy should generally respond positively. This is neither the present situation for Zambia nor the future because a weak economy means that economic and social sector policies and programs cannot be self supported. In this case the economic performance will have to fit the donors who in some cases prescribe “one size fits all” fixes regardless of country situations. Generally, the good story under this scenario is negated by the state of an economy that is on its knees. Were the economy to be strong, Zambia should be under this scenario. This scenario is not plausible for Zambia.

b) What would you like to add or change in each scenario to make it more plausible from your perspective?

Yazanda Scenario

Possible addition to make this scenario plausible could be the inclusion of the following to the King’s point speech/address;

“-More crucially we have lost the support of our cooperating countries because they have believed unsubstantiated wild accusations by the social media that our leadership is corrupt

-as a result of donors withholding their support, we are unable to support the socio-sectors resulting in high mortalities from communicable and non-communicable diseases witnessed only under the bitter Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) era.

-Finally, the economy is on its knees because the opposition political parties, NGOs including churches have connived with industry to make this government unpopular”

These additions would make this scenario almost true about Zambia.

Mwadyamweka Scenario

This is a case of a country that has high levels of corruption at all levels. It is highest levels of selfishness. Including corruption and selfishness to this scenario, one possibly could describe present day Zambia. The following additions would also fit the lamentations by this farmer and make it even more plausible;

At paragraph 1………I used recycled seed due to late distribution of inputs. When the recycled seed germinated, I woke up one morning to find some little devils had eaten all my maize. There has been insufficient information from Meteorological and Extension offices on weather forecast and pest out breaks and the media have done little to disseminate weather information.

Paragraph 3”…….This year’s budget allocation to agriculture and input subsidies has further increased but these may not reach the majority of farmers like me. I am told the inputs will first be distributed by the Minister to areas that support the leadership of the day but are also traditionally not agriculture to ensure national food security.

Paragraph 5 “…….Luckily my daughter just got engaged to a copper trader (jerabo) who sells to the Chinese. On my part, I am going to queue up and shout the loudest for the Minister who may dish-out benevolence although in reality this is my tax payment money but is said to be donation by a people centred government for selfish interests of the political leaders. This I hope will help us to survive the harsh realities of life.”

Kudyela Scenario

Most un-probable idealistic dream country for any nation. I do not know of any such a country except heaven on earth beliefs.

Nalimai Scenario

Changing the positives to negatives makes this scenario plausible as summarised; “A country with low economic growth and with institutions that are inefficient and highly unadaptable.” This scenario would eventually be similar or same as Yazanda Scenario. 

3           a) What solutions would support the drivers of the best scenario and help overcome obstacles encountered on the way?

Best Scenario drivers include everything every nation aspires and key ingredients include strong economic growth in a balanced ecosystem, good governance anchored on institutions that are accountable to citizens exhibiting observance of the rule of law and a motivated and highly educated and skilled citizenry.

b) How about overcoming challenges of the worst scenario?

Challenges of the worst case scenario could take many generations to overcome because the challenges are compounded by complex related vices or factors that require complete overhaul. It requires massive investments in awareness and education because an educated society is likely to find solutions to the challenges they face. It also calls for moral transformation to ensure leadership is morally upright. Leadership should be seen to lead by example and make decisions and act in such a way as to strengthen institutions and not take advantage of weak institutions to corruptly enrich themselves. Strategic investment in economic sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing as well as in the education sector could in the longterm reverse this scenario. The “king” should not only ask citizens to sacrifice, but he must be the first one to be seen to be “tightening and not loosening and increasing notches to his belt”

4)            What are the key steps needed to get a change process in motion and who needs to be involved?

The solutions to overcoming worst case scenario as given in 3(b) above are applicable here. It requires setting up institutions that are accountable to the citizens and not self serving the leadership. Change process requires the mobilization and therefore involvement of citizens to ensure change is wholly owned as the case was when Zambia ditched the One Party system of governance in favour of multiparty democracy. Any attempt or perceived attempt to change this agreed form of governance is rejected by citizens because they were involved in the change process.