Cablegate: Ambassador's Tour D'western Horizon

DE RUEHLS #0839/01 3240426
R 200426Z NOV 09






E.O. 12958: N/A

SUBJECT: Ambassador's Tour d'Western Horizon

1. (SBU) Summary: Zambia's Central and Western provinces offer
great capacity for growth and development but continue to struggle
with a lack of good governance, deficiencies in infrastructure, and
the unresolved status of refugees. Ambassador met with Amcit
entrepreneurs and activists, local leaders, and refugees and
highlighted USG health and education initiatives via media outreach
in the region October 27-29. End summary.

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American Firm is Largest Micro-Financer in Zambia
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2. (SBU) Located in Mumbwa, Central Province, the American-owned
Dunavant Cotton Gin buys cotton entirely from small-scale Zambian
farmers, providing much-needed capital in the region and employment
for 36 permanent and 340 seasonal workers. Dunavant is the largest
ginner in Zambia, providing 100,000 Zambian farmers with quality
control training and input financing, making it the largest
micro-financer in the country. The company's technical director
expressed frustration to Ambassador that Chinese competitors do not
provide micro-financing but will then buy up cotton from farmers who
received input financing from Dunavant. Dunavant is pressing for a
Cotton Act that would require all ginneries to make input loans in
order to promote expanded production.

3. (SBU) The company has partnered with the Gates Foundation to
support farmer training. Falling cotton prices have led to a
decrease in production to 100,000 tons of seed cotton - half of what
it was in 2005, the technical director remarked. Nevertheless, he
noted, Dunavant is working aggressively to win farmers back to
cotton production, promoting the marketing label "Cotton Made in

Mayukwauykwa Refugee Camp - Laboring On

4. (SBU) The oldest refugee camp in Zambia, Mayukwayukwa houses over
9,000 Angolans, along with approximately 300 Congolese, 100
Rwandans, and 100 Burundians. The camp resembles a typical Zambian
village rather than an organized camp. Many of the ostensibly
Angolan inhabitants, some of whom are the children and grandchildren
of Angolan refugees who first arrived in the late 1960s, have little
knowledge of or connection to Angola. The Ambassador witnessed
UNHCR-supported programs that provide agriculture and other job
training, and a skit performed by camp youth that educates people
about gender-based violence and human trafficking. Inhabitants
struggle with sub-standard housing during the rainy season and a
lack of employment options given the tight restrictions on passes to
leave the camp. While relations between refugees and local Zambians
are generally amicable, during a later meeting with the Ambassador,
the Provincial Permanent Secretary blamed the refugees for bringing
diseased animals into Zambia and thus ruining the cattle-raising
industry in Western Province.

5. (SBU) The Ambassador met with a group of about 100 refugees who
will be returning to Angola by the end of this year. One refugee
noted he was encouraged to return after hearing from the Angolan
ambassador in Zambia that the country is now safe. (Note: Although
the Angolan civil war ended in 2002, refugees lack hard information
about the situation they would face upon return to eastern Angola).
The Embassy's joint press release with UNHCR, noting USG support for
refugee programs and the need to find a permanent solution for the
refugees, received favorable press coverage.

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Mongu Amcits - Grateful for Attention, Critical of Provincial
--------------------------------------------- -----

6. (SBU)The American community in Mongu comprises priests and nuns
in the Roman Catholic church, Baptist missionaries, and young adults
working for NGOs, including the daughter of a U.S. Congressman and
the daughter of a U.S. Senator's senior staffer. The community
expressed great appreciation for the Ambassador's visit to the
remote area, for the Embassy's consular assistance in past medical
emergencies involving American citizens, and for the Embassy's work
in development projects. Vice Consul briefed the community on the
Consular Section's new outreach efforts and assisted several
citizens with registering as overseas voters. Long-time Amcit
residents noted that the local police are more problem than help,
and reported that corruption is rampant in the area.

7. (SBU) Ambassador met separately with Amcit Catholic Bishop Paul

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Duffy, who is outspoken on issues of governance and corruption.
(Note: The Roman Catholic Church plays a prominent role in
provincial development projects, partnering with the U.S. African
Development Foundation (USADF), and promoting press freedom through
Catholic-owned Radio Liseli. End note). Duffy confided that many
Zambian bureaucrats and community leaders have encouraged him to
keep speaking out when they are unable to do so for fear of
retribution. He opined that Western Province must be the most
corrupt province in Zambia. "If it is not," he said, "Zambia is in
real trouble." As an example of corruption in the province, he
cited the 65 bore holes paid for by the government as the first step
in a development of a new commercial farm bloc, but none of which,
upon field inspection, could be found.

8. (SBU) Duffy noted that women have few opportunities in the
province under patriarchal Lozi tribal society. Turning to the
refugee camp where he is active, he lamented that everyone born in
Zambia gets citizenship except children of refugees -- even children
of Zambian mothers and refugee fathers do not get citizenship.

9. (SBU) In a Radio Liseli interview conducted by a Fulbright
nominee, the Ambassador highlighted USG health and education
initiatives in the region as well as the importance of good
government. The station manager of Radio Liseli noted at a separate
meeting that the station has also highlighted corruption issues,
even at the risk of displeasure from the provincial government.

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Senanga District Clinic - Successful Community Involvement in PMTCT

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10. (SBU) The Ambassador visited the Nanjuca rural health center in
Senanga District and officially handed over a laboratory provided by
the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through a
co-operative agreement between U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) and the Western Province medical office of the
Ministry of Health. This laboratory serves the local community
(population 5,419) as well as distant surrounding areas and is an
example of decentralized strengthening of the health system to
improve quality of care, especially for HIV, TB, and malaria. The
HIV prevalence among adults 15-49 in Western Province is 15.2%,
which is higher than the national average of 14.3%. The Ambassador
stressed the need for community leadership to strengthen HIV
prevention. Through an innovative program led by local area chiefs
(indunas) and the facility health committee, the rate of testing of
male partners of pregnant women increased from 36% in the first
quarter to 83.6% in the third quarter, strengthening the impact of
the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) program.

Agriculture Potential Unmet

11. (SBU) Local interlocutors noted that Western Province has very
fertile ground but agricultural production is far below potential.
Mango trees grow abundantly, but there is insufficient
infrastructure to get the produce to markets outside the province.
Likewise, cashew nuts are plentiful in the province, but the one
cashew-processing factory closed down a few years ago following
privatization of the parastatal company. Capitalizing on a common
belief that rice from Mongu tastes better than other rice, a
USADF-funded project with the Diocese of Mongu Development Center
(DMDC) is helping to develop the Mongu Rice brand. It is currently
sold in Lusaka and elsewhere in Zambia at a small premium over other
rice, and the company has received interest from buyers in the
Democratic Republic of Congo. The USG contributes over USD 1
million to support rice production in Zambia. [Comment: Ironically,
the DMDC is seeking to begin rice-polishing as a way to add value to
the output, even though in doing so, a less healthy product is
produced for consumption. Wealthier Zambians tend to perceive more
highly processed foods as a mark of development. End comment]. The
DMDC noted that local farmers could have a second season of rice
production in the dry season, but only with significant investment
in irrigation.

12. (SBU) USAID funds a number of projects in Western Province aimed
at increasing agricultural output and reducing the area's exposure
to natural disasters. The Ambassador toured a project to clear
colonial-era canals built by the Lozi Royal Establishment when the
province was still known as Barotseland. The cleared canals will
reduce flood risk and open up 2600 hectares of farmland. At the
same time, USAID projects train farmers in organic farming, using
manure and natural insect repellents such as shallots in place of

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Westward Expansion

13. Comment: Projects such as the DMDC Mongu Rice cooperative and
Dunavant Cotton Gin highlight the region's agricultural potential.
Likewise, the Nanjuca Rural Health Center shows how a relatively
small investment in local health can pay significant dividends.
However, progress in Western Province is hindered by poor
governance, a lack of infrastructure, and the unresolved status of
long-term refugees. End comment.


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