Namwala is located 1,000 meters above sea level with an approximate population of 5000. It lies within the district bearing the same name, which is located on the southern bank of the Kafue River, in the middle of the ancestral land of the Ilas (formerly also known as Mashukulumbe).
The local language Ila is related to Tonga, which is the main language of the southern province. One also hears Lozi, which is spoken in Livingstone and the western province. The Ilas are traditionally known for their independence and pride. This becomes particularly noticeable every year during the traditional Shimunenga Festival, which takes place in Maala in September or October. Here they celebrate their culture through dancing and performances with their livestock.
Cattle breeding and agriculture shape the Namwala district economy. Prior to 1990 there were 225,000 cattle breeders remaining. In 1991 the government eliminated free veterinary support leading to a plague outbreak and reducing the number to 150,000. By the year 2003 approximately 85 percent of cattle herders had their animals vaccinated. It was proven that vaccinating your livestock helped guarantee economic security. Thanks to this the 2004 Foot and Mouth epidemic barely affected them. The size of one’s herd is a local prosperity indicator. Within the last years, more and more farmers successfully became commercial livestock breeders.
In the farming industry the main crops are corn and peanuts. When the FAO assessed the grounds they deemed its fruitfulness as inadequate. The building of the Itezhitezhi dam may have reduced the number of floods, which lead to a gigantic 5,000 km² lake for months in the Kafue Plain, but has not eliminated them.
Since the completion of the latest road to Choma in 2011, the provincial capital lying 180 km south, Namwala has become more accessible. A motorized ferry makes the crossing of the Kafue effortless. The small district capital of Namwala has flourished and grown over the past years. They have even incorporated a department to fight the battle against AIDS.
In the center of town one can find several stores and a local fresh market. The overnight accommodation possibilities have also increased in the past years. The large 3,600 km² Namwala Game Management Area borders Kafue National Park and the Itezhitezhi barrier lake.