Two of the main concerns in Zambia at the moment relate to the empowerment of women and youth unemployment. One would be forgiven for wondering how this relates to the road inside Roma Girls’ Secondary School. Let me begin the story…..
Those who have been to Roma Girls’ over the past few years will be acutely aware of the state of the road. In fact vehicles and bodies will have suffered as a result of the pot holes (or as some have euphemistically called swimming pools) on the road. This situation is about to change.
Many women in Zambia earn money by crushing stones, it may be a continent wide occupation for women. The International Labour Organisation has decided to work with these women here in Zambia and show them how to crush stones of a particular size and quality that can be used on the roads – cobblestones. Youth unemployment is a scourge in many African countries and Zambia is no exception. The Construction Federation here in Zambia has decided to take unemployed youth – grade 7 and grade 9 dropouts – under its wings and teach them how to construct roads with cobblestones. You may wonder what have women empowerment and youth employment got to do with the road in Roma. Well, history is made up of moments, hours, days and so on. History is in the making here in Roma.
Cobblestone roads are not something that can be seen in Zambia. Some will have seen them in places like Rome and they have lasted for centuries. A group of engineers from Kenya came to Zambia to consult the Road Development Agency about the construction of cobblestone roads here. These experts were willing to teach others how to construct them.
Providence provides. The road in Roma was under discussion with the Road Development Authority and it was agreed that we should benefit from the expertise of these people from Kenya. The International Labour Organisation and the Construction Federation came on board and work has begun on our road.
It is an exciting prospect and one that we are happy to be part of as it caters not only for the school, staff and RSC population in Roma but also gives opportunity to those who are on the margins to be gainfully employed and be given skills that will be of use in the country into the future. The work began on the 4th May with the arrival of machinery and some materials. The school car park became a classroom with the experts teaching the students how to lay these cobblestones. One stretch of the road is already being done and even though we expect disruption for about three months all involved are willing to put up with the inconvenience in order to reap the benefit at the end. Our road will be the first cobblestone road in Zambia.
Further updates will follow on the progress – watch this space.