Sustainability of Social Development Projects in Zambia: A Critical Analysis of the Zambia Social Investment Fund (ZAMSIF) Development Project

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2012

25 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents


Abbreviations and Acronyms

1 Introduction
1.1 Development and the Poverty Challenge
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Objective of the Study
1.4 Study Methodology

2 Literature Review
2.1 Social Development Concept
2.2 Projects as Stimuli of Social development
2.3 Core Actors in Social Development Projects
2.4 Stakeholder Participation in Social Development Projects
2.5 Sustainability of Social Development Project

3 Case Study – ZAMSIF Project
3.1 ZAMSIF Project Development Objective
3.2 ZAMSIF Project Institutional Arrangements
3.3 ZAMSIF Project Components
3.3.1 Community Investment Fund (CIF)
3.3.2 District Investment Fund (DIF)
3.3.3 Poverty Monitoring and Analysis (PMA)
3.3.4 Institutional Support (IS)

4 Study Findings and Comments
4.1 General Analysis of Project Implementation and Outcomes
4.2 Availability of Improved Infrastructure and Accessibility – Outcome Indicator (1)
4.3 Capacity Building for Improved Local Governance – Outcome Indicator (2)
4.4 Poverty and Social Information Systems – Outcome Indicator (2)
4.5 Project Sustainability
4.6 Challenges of ZAMSIF Project Implementation
4.7 Negative and Positive Factors to Project Implementation
4.8 Government Performance during Project Implementation
4.9 IDA’s Performance during Project Implementation
4.10 Major Lessons Learnt from the Study

5 Conclusion



The paper provides a critical analysis of a social development project in Zambia in terms of its sustainability after the cessation of donor or local financial support. Specifically, the paper focuses on the challenges experienced in the implementation of such a project and the measures devised for its sustainability. The Zambia Social Investment Fund (ZAMSIF) development project regarded as an all- embracing project with coverage of almost every aspect of a full –fledged social development project is used as the case study.

The study underscores a number of significant achievements of the ZAMSIF project, suggestive of the project’s effectiveness as one single largest poverty reduction programme in Zambia. The project implementation process embraces upward and downward accountability with direct ownership and resource cost contribution into the project by most of the communities for effective implementation and sustainability. Some of the challenges encountered in the implementation process are elucidated in the paper.

Keywords: Project Sustainability, Social Development, Stakeholder Participation, Community Investment Fund, District Investment Fund, Poverty Monitoring and Analysis, Capacity Building, Decentralization

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1 Introduction

1.1 Development and the Poverty Challenge

Development has and continues to be objectively focused at uplifting the living standards of the people through the provision of the social and economic means. Its premises has been “on increasing the availability and widening the distribution of basic life sustaining goods; raising the levels of the living standards of the people and expanding the range of economic and social choices available to individuals” (Todaro, 1999). However these premises have not been attainable in most of the developing economics because of the many development challenges that continue to take the centre stage on the economic and social agendas.

The common challenge that has continued to be faced by developing economies has been the issue of persistent poverty and the scanty development that has nearly made most of the populations in developing economies to be locked in a vicious circle of human suffering. Such challenges have continued to attribute to the ever increasing disparities between the rural and urban communities in terms of the distribution of development. The poverty challenge has been an historical phenomenon and continues to be the root to current development problems in most of the developing economies. The failure to fulfill development strategies in most of the developing economies has been the lack of stringent policies that focused on issues of poverty and other related issues of inequality and unemployment as no priority is given to the poverty challenge. Zambia is one such economy that has continued to experience the poverty challenge despite putting poverty strategies in place. The persistent poverty situations have continued to make it difficult for the Government to advance its development agenda.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

With the realization of the need to alleviate high levels of poverty and scanty development mostly in the rural areas of the country, the Zambian Government, as part of its economic and social agenda, embarked on a number of development programmes in form of projects across the country. However, over time, these projects especially those initiated and funded by donor agencies have continued to receive criticism from advocacy groups most especially on their sustainability. Despite the criticism, development projects especially those that are donor funded have continued to be embraced by Government as more and more projects are being set up regardless as to whether adequate measures are in place for their sustainability.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of the study was to provide a critical analysis of local and donor funded development projects in Zambia. The focus was on their sustainability after the cessation of donor or local financial support. Specifically, the study also focused on the challenges experienced in the implementation of such projects and the measures devised for their sustainability. The Zambia Social Investment Fund (ZAMSIF) project was used as the case study. The choice of the ZAMSIF project was made with the consideration that it was all embracing in that it covered almost every aspect of a full –fledged social development project.

1.4 Study Methodology

The study adopted a descriptive analysis of data to come up with the result that met the main objective of the study. For authenticity of the data, selected interviews were held with community stakeholders, and some officials in Ministries of Finance and Local government. In other instances, a field visit to some of the project sites within the proximity of the researcher was undertaken to have an on spot check on the situation on the ground with regard to project sustainability after the closure of the ZAMSIF project. The research methodology enabled the researcher to generalize the outcome to other donor funded projects undertaken in most of the rural areas of Zambia.

2 Literature Review

2.1 Social Development Concept

Social development is one such concept that is interpreted differently in many spheres of life. The simple view is that social development always means some form of change of society. This change would be either in a form of “a physical reality or a state of mind in which society is able to obtain a better life through some combination of social, economic and institutional processes” (Thirlwall, 2006). It has to do with the transformation of the entire economic and social system. The transformation eventually leads to the improvement of the livelihood of the people. The improvement is what brings change to human conditions. Changes in human conditions are mainly those which are associated to poverty, unemployment and inequality in the distribution of welfare.

Amongst the many human conditions prevalent in societies, issues of poverty and its effects seem to take the centre stage in the development focus because of the understanding that higher levels of poverty in any country have greater effects on the economy in that they over-shadow economic achievements wherever they persist. The presence of poverty in any environment is prone to social imbalances. It is these social imbalances that are assumed to undermine human potential to develop. Social development in society would therefore mean more than an attempt to reduce poverty and the achievement of social and economic improvement in society but it is critical because of the understanding that development problems perhaps more than the problems associated with any other aspect of human life are problems of social policy and issues of self-determination. These always come into play when the benefits that accrue with development are considered.

2.2 Projects as Stimuli of Social development

Project is equally another concept that has variances in meaning. Cusworth and Franks (1992), for instance defined a project “as an investment of capital in a time bound intervention to create productive assets”. Capital in the definition referred much to the human and physical resources in the sense that the assets created are those of human, institution and physical nature. The key aspect that distinguishes a project from other forms of investment is that a project is time- bound and strictly intended to achieve a specific set of objectives.

In literature, “development project” definition is one that has a lot of differences in meaning depending on the context in which it is applied. Development projects may be considered “as instruments of policy and the means by which policies are put into practice” (Cusworth & Franks, 1992). The understanding is that development projects as important mechanisms for implementing policies do demonstrate positive effects of policies at a practical level by providing the impact of development initiatives on society. They are more tangible and practical tools that are directed at achieving specific goals and targets within a specific time frame and provide measurement of improvements to the economic, institutional and social economic structures of particular societies. The link of appropriate policies to projects is therefore an important element in the development process.

Social development projects are people oriented and include those of agricultural, health, education and social welfare. The essential feature of these projects is that they are directly linked to the community and their implementation is through the community itself. In this arrangement, projects stimulate development in that they continue to empower the community economically through access to the productive assets such as land and entrepreneurship. Further to the aspect of empowerment, human development continue to be enhanced through accessibility to facilities for basic human living such as those of education, health, water and sanitation and markets. The importance of projects as a stimuli of social development therefore lay mostly on its ability to create assets in the form of systems or institutions that continue to operate and yield a flow of benefits on a continuous basis even long after the completion of the project. The understanding is that projects create capital investments and therefore most of the capital investments that are created by projects are focused on the production of assets.

The understanding in literature is that projects by implication are not permanent elements of the development process and therefore their roles are mainly catalytic in that they only speed up the pace of development. There are only meant to facilitate the creation of sustainable linkages between the intended beneficiary groups and those new or adapting institutions created by projects. In the case of agriculture, for example, the major thrust of projects could be in the establishment of conditions that allow for sustainable interaction between producers and the consumers (IFAD, 2009). Arising from the understanding that projects are not permanent but only intended to produce benefits that continue at some specified level over time, it therefore follows that projects sustainability therefore becomes an important aspect and a serious implication on the social development projects. Project sustainability as a concept is discussed later in the study.

2.3 Core Actors in Social Development Projects

To every social development project, there are stakeholders who are the purported beneficiaries of the project. This could be the more reason why the aspect of core actors in the project development process is very important. For social development projects to achieve intended goals and targets, recognition of the core actors in the process need to be an aspect of emphasis. People have always been recognizing the central focus of development. The understanding is that the centrality of people in projects has decisive implications upon the project preparation, strategy and resource allocation. This is because the project stimulation of development has always been the people because of their ability to create for themselves new patterns of social organization in line with their aspirations. This is one reason why in most of the socio-cultural environment it is found that projects have continued to be specifically designed to develop people’s livelihoods.

2.4 Stakeholder Participation in Social Development Projects

One stimulus to development identified in literature is stakeholder participation in project development and implementation process. This is because stakeholder participation in the process gives them the opportunity to partake in the project decision making process. This is most applicable in situations where project stakeholders especially the beneficiaries get involved in the management of tasks of projects through contributing labor, money or the undertaking to maintain the project. An example could be cited of the rural water supply project in the Eastern part of Zambia (IFAD, 2009). The significance of the project laid on the aspect of cost-sharing where the local village communities collectively shared the costs and maintenance of the water pump supply system.

Another example is the irrigation project that was designed to increase paddy rice in Tanzania (IFAD, 2009). The main accomplishment of the irrigation project was in the development of beneficiary associations. These were water users associations formed through IFAD’s small-holder development project for marginal areas. These associations succeeded in mobilizing small-holder farmers and involving them in all aspects of the project execution. This was done by first creating awareness and enlisting the village council to select participants and choose irrigation sites. Participants were invited to comment on the designs after which the local contractors bid on the accepted design. Local farmers were further willing to provide labour for much of the survey and construction work. Because most of the structures were made of simple local materials, the users associations were able to do most of the maintenance and management of the project themselves.

2.5 Sustainability of Social Development Project

Sustainability is one term that equally has different interpretations. In one front it can be defined as an "ultimate test of development efforts” (OECD 1989). WASH Technical Report no: 93 provides the definition of sustainability by proving “the ability of a project to initiate a process and have its benefits maintained for a reasonable time” The ability of projects to maintain levels of benefits to a static or expanding population is linked to the efforts of institutions and from this understanding IFAD (2009), defined sustainability as “ ensuring the institutions supported through projects and the benefits realized are maintained and continue after the end of the project”. By implication, project sustainability is an indication of the project’s ability to continue to meet objectives defined in terms of specific benefits levels produced for targeted beneficiaries, the situation that is supposed to continue to increase even after project completion. In other words, it is the basic measure of project success of both the national and community development efforts. The difficult, however, has been on the criteria used to measure how sustainable a project is supposed to be as not all the projects would be able to meet certain criteria.

Accordingly, benefit level is one yardstick that is used to measure the level of sustainability in a project. Benefit level may imply a threshold value whereby goals are achieved to qualify the project as being sustainable. In this respect, projects could be categorized in terms of the level of benefits accrued. The first level category may apply to those projects whose benefits exceed the end of project levels because of replication or expansion of the project systems to beneficiaries beyond the target population. The second level category would apply to those projects that may continue to provide benefits to the targeted group of beneficiaries without further expansion of the benefits to new beneficiaries due to lack of extra funds or other resources. The third category may apply to those projects whose benefits upon reaching a stable level may eventually decline beyond an acceptable level and eventually disappearing entirely. These are the projects that are regarded as unsustainable or failed projects.

2 Case Study – ZAMSIF Project

ZAMSIF project was a follow-on Project to the Social Recovery Projects I and II which were implemented concurrently from 1991 to 2000, a period of 10 years. The Social Recovery Projects I and II were mainly aimed at financing community initiatives and to build local capacity for it sustenance in the period of economic shocks. The projects were supported by International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank.

ZAMSIF project came about as one of the Government’s poverty reduction programmes. The Project was approved in June 2000 following the signing of the Development Credit Agreement (DCA) between Government and IDA for a sum of SDR 38.2 million (US$ 63.7 million). The Project was designed based on the World Bank framework that supported broader poverty reduction strategy. The ZAMSIF project was an Adaptable Program Loan that was to have been administered in two phases over a period of 10 years. The first phase became effective in July 2000 and closed in December 2005 (ZAMSIF PAD, 2000)


Excerpt out of 25 pages


Sustainability of Social Development Projects in Zambia: A Critical Analysis of the Zambia Social Investment Fund (ZAMSIF) Development Project
( Atlantic International University )  (School of Business and Economics)
Project Planning and Management
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
545 KB
sustainability, social, development, projects, zambia, critical, analysis, investment, fund, zamsif, project
Quote paper
Stephen Gumboh (Author), 2012, Sustainability of Social Development Projects in Zambia: A Critical Analysis of the Zambia Social Investment Fund (ZAMSIF) Development Project, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Sustainability of Social Development Projects in Zambia:  A Critical Analysis of the Zambia Social Investment Fund (ZAMSIF) Development Project

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free