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Promoting Equitable Development in Zambia

An alternative allocation model developed by the Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (ZIPAR) and aimed at enhancing the use of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in Zambia has spurred deliberations and interrogation among government and stakeholders, which could lead to better use of the CDF.

The CDF, which was approved by the Zambian Parliament in 1995 and administered through the local government to all constituencies in Zambia, is intended to support the implementation of development programmes at the constituency level. It is the only fund that goes directly to the community and as a result, is an important vehicle for achieving their prioritized needs. Communities are, to a reasonable extent involved in the utilization of the fund.  The challenge, however, is that an equal quantum of the fund is disbursed to all constituencies regardless of their geographical size and location, population size and levels of deprivations. Notwithstanding this ‘one-size-fits-all’ current allocation model, the CDF has the potential to lift the rural and deprived communities out of poverty and promote equitable development in the country. 

The allocation model developed by ZIPAR aims to promote equitable distribution and effective development of the constituencies developed and to stimulate the utilization of funds that reflects the needs and capacity of each constituency.

ZIPAR sought to develop a resource allocation model for the CDF that takes into account the different needs of constituencies and thus is equitable. A robust study involving both desk and field research was conducted, which resulted in the development of an equitable model for the allocation of the CDF. To ensure early buy-in, ownership and utilization of the model, ZIPAR engaged members of parliament who would be the custodians of the model and the local councils through which the fund was administered.  In addition, ZIPAR presented the model last year at an Economic Management meeting of the Ministry of Finance, which was attended by the Secretary to the Treasury, the Bank of Zambia and other high level institutions. The Ministry acknowledged the necessity for a needs-based formula in the allocation of the CDF and also indicated that such a formula can be applied beyond the CDF.

An article on the CDF in a local newspaper (The Times) in July 2014 reported the Minister of Finance as indicating publicly the government’s commitment to adopt the model to ensure equitable distribution of the CDF. In a statement, the Minister reportedly said, “allocating CDF equally to all constituencies is not fair, as rural constituencies face serious challenges compared to urban-based constituencies”. The paper went on to report that the minister requested the “relevant parliamentary committee to provide guidance as to how the issue could be resolved to ensure there is fair distribution of resources”, which precisely is the position advocated by ZIPAR.

Furthermore, in the 2015 budget, the government introduced a Local Government Equalization Fund that will use a resource allocation model to determine how much funds should be disbursed to the constituencies based on needs.

Evidence of the impact of the resource allocation model was also given when a prominent member of parliament, Hon. Given Lubinda, visited ZIPAR offices on 13 August 2014 without prior notice. The MP was interested in the model and requested for the publication on the CDF model. He was also interested in getting to know of other research studies that ZIPAR had done.

By focusing on the implementation of a model that reflects the needs and priorities of individual constituencies, the utilization of an equitable resource allocation model will go a long way to enhance effective and efficient utilization of the CDF and to promote equitable development of the constituencies and Zambia at large.

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