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Monday, 19 November 2007

CSO on maize and poverty!

The Central Statistical Office have been doing some brilliant work to bring to life some of their data. There's still some distance to go to get underneath some numbers, but their current work certainly bodes well for next year when the 2007 Economic Census and Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) 2007 comes on stream. I have particularly enjoyed their Monthly bulletins which combines raw monthly data with specific analytical pieces. Two pieces leaped out from the October Bulletin released this month:

I found this chart particularly interesting for two things - first, the staggering increase in maize cultivation between 2000/1 and 2006/7, possibly lends credence to the Government claims that its agricultural policies are working especially in safeguarding food security. Something like 50% increase in maize cultivation. That by any standard is huge increase - but let us remember that "area planted" is not indicative of output. The second thing, which illustrates the intrigues of data, is the last three years. Maize cultivation has virtually stood still, but maize output of course has gone up over the same period....hints of increased productivity?

The second chart looks at the incidence of poverty by province for 2004 and 2006. On average Zambian poverty levels have gone down. But what is interesting, is where they have gone up/down and how that compares to the voting patterns in the the last election. Areas that have seen substantial reductions in poverty (e.g. Lusaka and Copperbelt) voted for the opposition. Areas that saw increase in poverty rates such as Eastern Province voted overwhelmingly for the party in government. Either the poor in rural areas are content or the richer urban dwellers have seen a glimmer of light, and have concluded "we can do better!".

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