Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Social media: local benefits

20 January 2018

For many of us, Facebook is a tool we use in our busy lives to keep in touch with friends and families. Not so for Buumba Malambo, an inspiring councillor from a ward in Kafue District in Zambia, who is embracing social media to change the lives of her citizens in a number of ways. A participant in the Young Leaders’ Forum at the CLGC2017, Buumba addressed the main conference to explain what she’s been doing.  


The 25 year old has used Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and emails to explain how she wants to improve her communities. Posting pictures of the many children who had to walk to school barefoot because they had no shoes resulted in a thousand pairs being sent to Kafue, making an incredible difference. When she used social media to highlight the slim prospects for girls to get an education, someone in the USA spotted the picture of four young girls and offered to sponsor their education. Buumba proudly explains that there are now 603 girls taking part in this programme. She said around 65% of the sponsors are Zambians and believes that, leading by example in this way, has encouraged people from other countries to support the initiative.


Posting a picture of children standing in the rain encouraged people to donate materials to build shelter for the students who travel long distances to attend school. Raising awareness of the number of attacks on girls travelling to school through dense countryside, and how bicycles can improve safety, 150 bicycles were donated via Facebook; new or old, they have all contributed to making the journey to school safer.  


Buumba has secured medical support by approaching relevant organisations and getting them involved and proudly shows before and after pictures of children who are now able to attend school; citing one boy who used to herd cows, but is now showing a clear talent for maths.


As a trained social worker and the daughter of teachers, Buumba has always believed in the importance of education in changing lives, but this is difficult to do without books. Making this point on line, MacMillan saw the posting and Kafue received 34 large boxes of books.

Recognising the importance of education for women in a community with low levels of numeracy and literacy, Buumba went on social media “connecting the entire world to my ward” and soon received donations of desks, books, pencils. More than 450 women are now improving their skills at night classes with Buumba reaping the rewards by seeing real change as these women are able to contribute more to their families and communities with new-found skills.


As a young leader herself, Buumba understands that local government can appear boring, stuffy and dominated by suits. That hasn’t stopped her from encouraging young people to volunteer in their local communities which she believes has made the idea of standing for election more attractive.


For the first time, Buumba’s ward will have a police post with building materials being donated, and local people taking food to the men building the post.


As well as receiving a number of national and international awards for her work, in 2014 Buumba was in the first cohort of Queen’s Young Leaders. She is also inspiring women and young people everywhere to get more involved in local government and their communities. Find out more about Cllr Malambo on Facebook  LinkedIn and Instagram


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