My predecessor Humza Yousaf undertook a successful visit to Zambia in January 2014 as part of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Baton Relay programme.
I visited Zambia from 9-15 February to continue to develop and strengthen the relationship between our countries - building upon connections which have existed since Dr David Livingstone’s time there – and to visit Scottish Government funded projects.
My visit was also helpful to discuss how Scotland and Zambia can further collaborate in areas like global health, in pursuit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As part of that, four days prior to departure, I announced funding of £200,000 to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties’ Livingstone Fellowship Scheme, which will enable doctors from Zambia (and Malawi) to come to Scotland for one year and benefit from specialist medical training, before they return home to take up consultant posts. This announcement was warmly welcomed in Zambia, in particular by the Minister for Health, Hon Chitalu Chilufya and by the Ministry of Health’s provincial health leads in Central Province.
My visit focussed on two locations: Lusaka, the capital city, where the majority of Ministerial meetings took place; and Kabwe, the provincial capital of Central Province, where the Scottish Government’s Zambia Development Programme, capacity building work and Small Grants Programme are principally being delivered.
In Lusaka I met with a number of Government Ministers: Vice President of Zambia, Hon Inonge Mutukwa Wina with whom I discussed her flagship initiative, the Jubilee Women’s Highway Integrated Markets (JWHIM) and the support the Scottish Government is contributing via our projects with Christian Aid and First Aid Africa. The Vice President remarked upon Scotland’s commitment to gender equality and commended the work we are funding Police Scotland’s International Development and Innovation Unit to deliver with their Zambia Police Service colleagues, which focuses on gender based violence and child protection. In addition, she spoke about Scotland’s expertise in fish farming and processing and enquired as to whether best practice could be shared.
I paid a courtesy call to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon Joseph Malanji during which he spoke of his interest in Scotland – he has visited on a number of occasions on a personal basis due to his passion for golf and noted the Scottish Government’s relationship with the Zambian Diaspora in Scotland. He also spoke at length about the positive impact he envisaged the Scottish Government’s involvement in the JWHIM will have, particularly in relation to agri-processing.
I also met the Minister for Health, Hon Chitalu Chilufya with whom I had a particularly productive discussion identifying needs in Zambia which would allow our countries to work collaboratively under the Scottish Government’s developing Global Health Programme. More specifically we discussed potential institutional capacity building work with the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, as well as opportunities for newly retired NHS doctors to work in Zambia.
I met the Minister for Community Development and Social Welfare, Hon Emerine Kabanshi who also opted to attend the Scottish Government’s project symposium in Kabwe, three days later. In line with her portfolio, Ms Kabanshi has a significant interest in how Governments work with civil society organisations, as well as gender based violence, sport for development (cycling in particular) and the Baby Box initiative. She also expressed an interest in visiting Scotland, specifically to learn more about our approach to working with civil society organisations.
My meeting with the Zambian Attorney General, Likando Kalaluka focussed on possible areas in which Scottish and Zambian Parliamentary Drafters can work together to update legislation, in particular child protection legislation, with the possibility of constitutional law experts from Scotland offering support. The discussion also considered how to further support the existing Police Scotland train the trainers work on gender based violence and child protection.
In Lusaka I also met the British High Commission, Deputy Head of DFID and the Irish Ambassador . With the latter two I discussed potential areas of shared interest in our respective international development programmes.
I was also privileged to attend Action Aid/Grassroots Soccer ’s project which the Scottish Government funds via our collaboration with Comic Relief . The project has gender equality and SDG5 very much at its heart and aims to upskill young women and girls in order to give them more confidence and resilience when dealing with challenging situations, particularly around relationships. I was extremely impressed by the energy and commitment to the programme and their future life ambitions shown by these young women.
Kabwe, Central Province:
En route to Kabwe, I visited the Vice President’s Jubilee Women’s Highway Integrated Market initiative at Chibombo to see for myself where two of our Zambia Development Programme Projects will be contributing to improving the market function, firstly by making the environment safer for women (and their children) who work there by providing first responder first aid training (First Aid Africa) and secondly by making working in the market more profitable for women by introducing agri-processing technology to enable them find more diverse, more profitable ways of using their stock (Christian Aid).
In Kabwe I met the Minister for Central Province, Hon Sydney Mushanga who again emphasised on behalf of the Zambian Government the value that they placed on the relationship with Scotland through the historical links which are traced back to Dr David Livingstone: and for Minister Mushanga the particular historic links to Scotland for Central Province, given that Dr Livingstone’s heart remains buried there. We discussed that not only had Dr Livingstone been a missionary and a medic, he had been an early proponent of human rights, which values we held to this day. Minister Mushanga commended the success of the Police Scotland work on child protection and gender based violence which has been delivered in Central Province to date. He also highlighted the Central Province Tourism Expo being held in August 2018 to which he would welcome input in whatever form the Scottish Government could contribute.
I also attended a roundtable meeting of the Central Province Provincial Health Leads (Senior Civil Servants in the Ministry of Health in Central Province), led by provincial Medical Director, Dr Rosemary Mwansa . The discussion concentrated on identifying the ways in which Ministry officials thought that the Scottish Government could provide additional value and have the most effective impact on health outcomes in Central Province via our developing Global Health Programme, using limited resources. Suggestions included the Scottish Ambulance Service providing capacity building training (particularly training of paramedics) which would go some way to mitigate the injuries and deaths which occur as a result of the particularly high numbers of road traffic accidents in the Province, which has the main South Africa to DRC trunk road running through it.
I spent Sunday morning at All Saints Church where I was very warmly welcomed by Bishop Musonda of Central Province , the Hon Tutwa Ngulube MP for Kabwe and Keith and Ida Waddell, the Education and Health Secretaries in the United Church of Zambia of which All Saints is a member and which also has strong links to the Church of Scotland. I met with a number of support staff who ensure the smooth running of the church and this provided the opportunity to hear more at grassroots level about the challenges people in Kabwe face, from poverty, HIV/AIDS and the disproportionate impact of climate change on the community.
I hosted a project symposium which provided a platform for the Zambia Development Programme and Small Grants Programme in country partners to present on the work which their projects have delivered to date and also on their aims and objectives between now and 2022. It also provided the opportunity for partners from all of the projects to network and identify ways to work collaboratively in future. The event was attended by the Minister for Community Development, the Hon Emerine Kabanshi and the Minister for Central Province, the Hon Sydney Mushanga; both had actively requested to attend following my initial meetings with each of them.
I was welcomed to Kabwe Police Headquarters by the Divisional Commander and taken to the Victim Support Unit and the One Stop Centre at Kabwe General Hospital to see firsthand the impact of the Scottish Government funded work which Police Scotland’s is delivering there with their Zambia Police Service colleagues. As noted above, the focus is on child protection and improving support for victims of Gender Based Violence.
Similarly, while I was in Lusaka, I visited Lilayi Police College where I observed Police Scotland trainers deliver ‘train the trainer’ child protection training to Zambia Police Service Officers, which involved role play, group discussion and evaluation of the session. I then proceeded to Police Headquarters in Lusaka where I met the Inspector Generals of the Zambian and Malawian Police Services . The discussion with them focussed on the success of the Police Scotland work to date and how it will continue to develop during 2018-19; both Inspector Generals highlighted how the Scottish Government funded programme in both countries further supported their own existing close-working relationship as neighbouring countries.
Overall, my visit strengthened diplomatic relations with the Zambian Government as well as establishing new relationships at all levels of Government and across a range of other sectors including police, health, civil society and church groups. This will contribute significantly to the ongoing development and ultimately successful delivery of our expanded Zambia Development Programme.
The visit also successfully demonstrated Scotland’s ongoing contribution to international development, showcasing strengths in health, gender equality, and sustainable economic development. It also underpinned the fact that we continue to be a good global citizen, making distinctive contributions in addressing world challenges and sharing our knowledge, skills and technical expertise for global good.