Public works in Bulozi : A case study of the construction and maintainance of canals, 1885-1980

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Mutonga, Sitwala
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This dissertation is a study of public works in Bulozi with specific reference to the construction and maintenance of canals between 1885 and 1980 under the Lozi, colonial and post-colonial states. The construction of canals was necessitated by the local environmental factors such as low and high floods in the plain to facilitate transport and drainage. The construction of the canals was only possible with the availability of labour. Labour was provided by the makolo and through tribute obtained', within and outside Bulozi.The coming of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (PEMS) and the British South African Company (BSAC) undermined the ability of the Lozi state to mobilise labour for work in canals. The PEMS and the BSAC were against the use of slave labour and this was abolished in 1906 by the company. Tribute labour was restricted to "twelve days" per man per year in 1906. Furthermore, the company introduced taxation and encouraged labour migration which eroded the makolo institution. In 1924, the colonial office in London took over Northern Rhodesia from the BSAC. The new administration did not also address itself to the state of canals from 1925 to 1945. After 1945 canals were considered to be important in the agricultural economy of Bulozi and investments were made by the Northern Rhodesia Government and the Barotse Native Government to improve drainage in the seepage areas. The post-colonial state wanted to improve maize production and trans-port in the floodplain. It made investments to construct and maintain the canals and this in turn provided employment to the local people who had no other option of employment. However, the programme of constructing canals failed to achieve the intended goals because of the economic problems which faced the country from the early 1970s and lack of extension education on soil, water and crop management on the part of the people. Thus the potential of the sishanjo (peat soil) was not fully exploited. The general impact of canals is also discussed and it will be shown that they made agricultural land available for cultivation and aided transport in the flood plain, in some areas, canals provided water for domestic uses.
Public works(Canals)- -Western Province- -Zambia , Municipal Engineering - -Western Province- -Zambia