UNODC Zambia supports local Civil Society Organisation (CSO) to improve systems to reintegrate prisoners into the community

In January 2020, UNODC Zambia supported the assessment of the capacity of several CSOs, including the Prisoners Reintegration and Empowerment Organization (PREO). This assessment revealed that many local CSOs had weak structural and organizational documents, procedures, and practices to sustain internal and external momentum and vision for their work. This general lack of institutional capacity by CSOs has been an ongoing concern for both government and development partners and, as such, institutional capacity building is a key area that UNODC supports. The result of the assessment also allowed for the definition of the support required in terms of capacity development for PREO. In 2021, UNODC supported the development of a strategic plan for the organization, including operational tools to improve their functioning and therefore contribute positively to prisoner reintegration systems and mechanisms in Zambia.

National statistics show that there are approximately 23,000 inmates in Zambia, all of whom require reintegration support prior to release. Since 2014, PREO has been supporting former prisoners to reintegrate into society. This has been done through interventions and activities targeted at these individuals and their families and working with government departments and other like-minded NGOs. Activities include training on a range of skills including carpentry, brickmaking, and cooking oil production. PREO has represented Zambia at international conferences, advocating for positive change in prisoner and former prisoner reform including improving HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and treatment.  

Under the leadership of its executive director, Mr Derrick Malumo, PREO was assisted by the UNODC in 2018 to establish a registration centre for former prisoners in Lusaka. Through this registration centre, PREO is facilitating linkages between former prisoners and the community for health and social services. The organization also supports initial communication with families where communication ties were broken or weakened. This action helps sustain the reform process of the former prisoners.

Thanks to UNODC’s support to PREO, to be able to mobilise much needed resources the organization will be able to implement reintegration programs with efficiency, transparency and accountability”, said Mr. Derrick Malumo executive director of PREO.

PREOs Strategic Plan 2021-2024 provides key directions for the organisation to support prisoners. The organization’s strategy is focusing on highlighting the importance of prison reform, data management and monitoring and evaluation processes among prison staff. Through this effort, PREO has now documented its vision and established concrete and measurable milestones for its progress in the coming years. Using this strategic plan, PREO hopes to garner greater and more structured support from local and international partners to take up the social reintegration cause of former prisoners. 

The social reintegration of prisoners is an ongoing issue of global and national interest. Challenges faced by former prisoners include social adaptation, including stigma and discrimination from their families and communities, inability to raise earn a living, or take up employment opportunities amidst missed educational opportunities, making them potentially vulnerable to re-offending practices. This support by organizations such as PREO is intended to enable them to reform while in prison and facilitate the start of their effective social reintegration into society upon release.

Photo: PREO staff member, Ms Susan Banda receiving print copies of Strategic Plan from UNODC staff member, Ms Nellie Nalwamba