A challenge faced by most of Zambia’s mines is trying to put across the sheer scope and variety of community-based projects they have invested in over the years.
Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in Chingola decided to solve the problem by publishing a book on the subject. The hardcover volume, A hand that extends beyond mining, uses colour photographs and no more than a page of copy at a time to tell these individual stories.
The foreword was written by none other than Zambia’s first president, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda. “There can be no doubt that KCM’s policy to plough back into society is a wonderful example of an excellent Public-Private Sector partnership,” he says.
As the following stories show, a recurring theme in the book is the determination of KCM to uplift the next generation of Zambians:
Early childcare development
Mothers who sell produce in the local market had nowhere to leave their children while they are at work. They can now drop them at the Nsungeni Early Childhood Development Centre, where qualified pre-school teachers teach the children subjects such as English, drawing and painting, and pre-mathematics.
Rewarding scholastic excellence
Nyawa Tembo comes from a humble family and a broken home in a poor community – but that didn’t stop her from excelling at her Grade VII exams and graduating with the best marks in the district. KCM awarded her a one-year scholarship, books, school equipment and a K250 shopping voucher.
Rebuilding the public library
After years of neglect and low investment, the Nchanga Public Library had fallen into disrepair. KCM refurbished the library, provided additional furniture and restocked it with books. “Now the library is a beautiful place to do your reading from,” says Assistant Librarian, Hope Pepeta.
Powering a school
For nine years, Mushishima Basic School had no power, and was restricted in its ability to teach properly, especially in its computer and science laboratories. KCM helped to solve the problem by donating a 280 KVA transformer, which serves not just the school but the community too.
Fitobaula Basic School, with some 600 pupils, had no access to clean water, and had only two toilets. Every morning, pupils had to fetch water from a stream 2 km away for use at the school. KCM sank a borehole and built five toilets. Both enrolment and retention of pupils improved markedly.
Building a park
Recreation parks are rare in Zambia, and children have nowhere to play. KCM funded the construction of the Sekela Recreation Park, complete with swings, see-saws, a slide and a merry-go-round. The park attracts delighted children from all over Chingola.
Sponsoring a young golfer
At age 18, Kaela Mulenga had found her passion – golf; but she needed a sponsor. KCM identified her talent when she was a 16 handicap. After KCM’s sponsorship, which included funding her participation in a key tournament in Britain, she was soon down to a 5 handicap. She has won a number of high-profile competitions, and was Zambia’s top performer in 2015.
What’s apparent from many of the stories in the book is that making a sustainable difference in the community doesn’t always have to involve colossal sums of money; rather, it’s about keeping an ear to the ground, identifying a broad range of needs and challenges, and investing accordingly.
All of Zambia’s mines will recognize aspects of their own Corporate Social Responsibility programmes in these examples, for they all run similar projects and initiatives.