The WEA in Zambia

The WEA in Zambia (WEAZ) was established in 1994 in response to dramatic social and economic change in Zambia after it became a democracy. WEAZ is a small voluntary organisation whose aim is to promote and provide adult education opportunities for workers, their families and their communities in which they live. Mike Chungu, the Executive Secretary of WEAZ, spoke at our biennial Conference in Nottingham last October.

Can you help?

We believe that the WEA’s work in Zambia is very important and we need to find a way to continue to support and develop it by linking more to the WEA community here in Britain. We could build a support network across the country that can continue to raise funds, organise exchange visits, share skills and promote our understanding of issues in developing countries.

WEA Zambia concentrates on three strands of work:

1. The Informal Economy: around leadership skills, negotiation skills, organisation management and economic literacy (9 out of 10 workers in Zambia make their living in the largely subsistence-oriented areas of agriculture, small-scale trading, crafts and services).

2. Provision for Community-based Organisations: around leadership skills; lobbying and advocacy skills; strategic planning; community development; team building and political awareness arising including promoting local democracy (often with carers and organisations helping people cope with high levels of HIV/AIDS and endemic malaria).

3. Trade Unions: around negotiation skills, grievance handling procedures, labour laws and leadership skills (privatisation of copper mining and its acquisition by state owned Chinese companies has made trade union organising difficult).

Since 1994 the WEA here has provided modest grant support (£12,000 per year) and this money employs six people across Zambia. That grant has allowed, until recently, successful project bids to be secured from other sources. However, in the last two years things have become increasingly difficult for people in Zambia and for WEAZ in securing project funding and charitable aid. In addition the global downturn has had a direct impact on Zambia’s economy overall leading to a situation where need is rising whilst funding reduces. As a consequence, by 2011, WEAZ was solely reliant for its work on its annual grant from the WEA in Britain. Can we find ways, through the WEA’s membership, to add to that small resource?

Zambia is one of the poorest countries on Earth. Life expectancy is 49. Income per head is only $1,254 per year compared to $33,296 in the UK (United Nations Gross National Income data)

Can WEA members and friends in Britain help?

If you feel you can give some time or some money to building a network of support and engagement with WEA Zambia, please e-mail James Ward, Director of Membership, Volunteering & Marketing and make the subject ‘Zambia’.