Sunday, July 17, 2011


Sunday. Winter has arrived in Chipata Valley and brings with it several days of cold temperatures, gusty winds, and occasional grey, ominous skies. I hear thunder rumbling in the distance today, and the clouds threaten to spill big drops of rain. After several hours, the Valley remains dry and rain-free. Because of the cold, I stayed in my motel room and did some paper work. After two weeks of long weekends, I am ready to work vigorously and catch up on delays in my work. I missed two, self-imposed due dates because of office and personal distractions.
Last Thursday (9th July), I presented the orientation workshop on the Regional and Urban Planning Bill (2009) for Zambia. I wanted to get the planning staff ready for thinking about what the changes in administration, as required by the Bill, will mean for Chipata Municipal Council planning. The RUP Bill now calls for the production of local plans, which are detailed neighborhood plans to address urban problems. It also calls for sectoral local plans that will serve as planning guides for addressing critical problems in local districts, such as transportation development and unplanned settlements, waste management, etc. I understand that the planning department does not currently write plans; they have relied on the old town and country planning guide, which does not address critical factors afflicting Chipata District. As such, I am thinking about how to best approach the comprehensive planning training planned for August and whether or not to include guidelines on writing urban plans in the training.

The workshop coincided with a Public Works Development Committee (PWDC) meeting, but enough staff attended, which included two people from the Provincial Planning Authority, to make it worthwhile. We also had a pretty good discussion after the orientation. People asked specific questions about elements of the Bill and I felt that we as a team were able to navigate our way through the fuzziness to see clear lines.
Volunteering, I am discovering, is also a collaborative process. Although I have training in some of the capacity needs, I am not an expert in all of them. One example is the ArcGIS training handbook I compiled to respond to the skills need for about three of the planning staff. Although I have been trained on ArcGIS, I am not an expert on database building and have not used the software in seven years. Thus, I need the assistance of a volunteer better at it than I, which forces me to seek out a GIZ volunteer because GIZ tends to bring GIS technicians to Zambia.

Monday. I bound the Local Area Plan for Magazine Squatter Compound today and included the minutes and illustrations to complete the required paperwork. This maneuver follows the guidelines for area plan production under the RUP Bill. I thought adhering to the guidelines was a good way to acclimate the planning staff to the planning practices desired by the Bill and to start new planning habits. On Friday, 15th June, 2011, I was scheduled to present it to counselors at the Hope Campus School, so I rushed to make 40 copies of the worksheets just so I could make it to my pick-up point on time (16h00) and not have to make the driver wait. However, as it turned out my ride never showed. I waited until 16h22, and then gave up, as the talk was supposed to end at 17h00. Such is the working life at the Council.

Tuesday. I gave a presentation on Integrated Land Use Design to introduce the concept and the models of ILUD to Chipata communities and to the planning department. I discussed some of the ILUD models – green infrastructure, greenways – but talked mainly about the use of permaculture in ILUD. I covered the main principles of permaculture and explained how it connects to ILUD in urban and regional planning. I anticipate incorporating ILUD concepts into the Integrated Development Plan, which I hope will become a central platform by which to think about urban design and environmental improvement in urban areas for the planning department of Chipata Municipal Council.

My presentation preceded the more detailed presentation on permaculture given by Edgar Banda, who received HIS permaculture training in Zimbabwe. I am happy to learn that permaculture teachings are making their way around the world, including sub-saharan Africa. Mr. Banda was quite knowledgeable and was able to give the participants in-depth knowledge about the historical foundation of permaculture and its central tenets and ethics of permaculture.

Friday. I finally finished the small grant for the Japanese Embassy due at the end of this month. Hectic and stressful, so stressful in fact that I ranted during the last few hours! I needed to hitch a ride to Lusaka and my only opportunity is next Monday, which means the grant truly had to be completed by today by 16h00 at the very latest. At least the bulk of the costs are listed in the bill of quantity and if we get the grant, the bill of quantity will be polished. Monday morning, I take off with Richard, a volunteer for GIZ (Germany) and company, for Lusaka and plan to be dropped off at the Japanese embassy. The following morning, I head straight for Lilongwe, Malawi with my passport in hand for a short, four to six day vacation, which I anticipate will refresh me and gear me up to face work, again.

With that, I leave you with a beautiful image of sunset that greets me as I descend into evening in my motel bed, and is the reason the fires of frustration in my heart cool into passive embers. 

Chipata setting

1 comment:

zambia calling said...

Hi Camille! I just want to applaude you for volunteering your time and energies in Zambia! I know trying to get things done can be frustrating sometimes, but I just want to encourage you in your ventures! Have a good time in Malawi!