U.S. Ambassador’s Luapula, North-Western Provincial Visit Highlights Support for Refugees, Women, and Education

LUSAKA – On July 16-18, U.S. Ambassador Daniel L. Foote completed a tour of Luapula and North-Western Provinces, highlighting U.S. assistance for refugees, women’s empowerment, and primary education.  In Luapula, Ambassador Foote visited Mantapala Refugee Camp, where over 14,700 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have received assistance from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).  Through its Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. government intends to provide an additional $610,000 in emergency food assistance to the refugees sheltering in Luapula’s Mantapala Refugee Camp.

In Mansa, Ambassador Foote interacted with representatives of MADWA Enterprise Limited, formerly the Mansa District Women Development Association, which helps 4,800 smallholder farmers produce, market, and sell sunflower oil.  In 2015, the organization received over $215,000 in grant funding from the U.S. African Development Foundation to strengthen the organization’s management and operational capacity.  The grant also supported the construction of a building to house an oil expeller and provide storage space for sunflower cooking oil production.  The Ambassador’s visit to the women-led business enterprise underscored the U.S. interest in women’s empowerment and promoting women’s ability to participate equally in economic development.

Ambassador Foote wrapped up his three-day visit in North-Western Province with a visit to  Nswanakudya Primary School, a beneficiary of the USAID Let’s Read project, which aims to improve reading for approximately 1.4 million Zambian children in pre-primary through Grade 3, in public and community schools across five provinces—Eastern, Muchinga, North-Western, Southern, and Western.  The children receive classroom instruction in one of Zambia’s seven official local languages of instruction: Silozi, Luvale, Kikaonde, Lunda, Chinyanja, Icibemba, and Chitonga.  Through the USAID Let’s Read project, the U.S. government helps train teachers, produce adequate teaching and learning materials, and support capacity building of administrators in the Ministry of General Education.

Ambassador Foote also met with groups of Peace Corps volunteers based in Luapula and North-Western Provinces, who are helping local communities with skills to improve rural education, fish production, health provision, food production, and environmental protection.  Zambia has the largest Peace Corps presence in Africa.