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Saturday, 11 October 2008

Election 2008 : Key Issues (Poverty)

A new thread to highlight what I see as the key issues in this election, that we need to check that candidates have viable solutions for them. I hope to make this thread more graphic - so expect charts and data and less text. The aim of this thread to encourage us to focus on issues and how the next President could help address them - the first issue is poverty.

Poverty rates in rural and urban areas, 1991-2006

Despite robust and increasingly broad-based growth in recent years, aggregate poverty rates under MMD have declined only slightly and remain high. According to the household survey in 2006, 64 percent of our people remain poor. Poverty rates remain highest in rural areas (80 percent) where two-thirds of our population resides. This implies that the vast majority of the poor (72 percent) live in rural areas. Other measures of well-being paint a disturbing picture including increasing child malnutrition over the 1990s (since MMD assumed the mantle), high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and lowest life expectancy in the world in 2007.

5 comments:

  1. I am yet to listen to HH and his plans for the country. What I have never heard is a candidate who can articulate how we can reduce poverty in rural Zambia, which by the wy includes improving rural education, health and transportation. Can we go back to common sense ideology and bring community workers to rural areas? Can we motivate teachers to go to neglected school? Where are the coorperatives in Zambia? People in rural areas have the ditermination and will to move themselves up the economic ladder but they cannot do it without start-up support. Zambias economy will not improvr if we ignore what should be the core of economic growth. Even though we made some econoimic gain how do we make sure that economc growth trickles to the bottom? Or do we start need to start from the bottom so we rise together? These are some of the questions politicians should answer.

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  2. As countries develop, people prefer to live in urban areas due to easier access to services and facilities. So this is why it is difficult to get people to go to rural areas. Possibly another strategy would be to focus on provincial centers of development, so that people have less incentive to migrate to the existing large cities and instead find a place closer to home.

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  3. "Zambias economy will not improvr if we ignore what should be the core of economic growth. Even though we made some econoimic gain how do we make sure that economc growth trickles to the bottom? Or do we start need to start from the bottom so we rise together?" - LM

    There are several complicated dimensions to this. If it is just about people, then really it probably does not matter where the growth occurs. If its in urban areas and people are able to move there, all well and good...but by and large mobility is low across areas, and in many cases those who are left behind as the towns boom are the poor and the elderly..

    In any case in Zambia we have seen a slow down in the rural urban drift...a previous blog Rural - urban drift, revisted....
    touched on this.

    The other issue is one you touch on..the rural area as the "engine of growth"...it has the mineral wealth and much attraction. A recent piece in the Times described the beauty of Luapula..and how untapped it... the point is that poverty aside, the rural area can power all of Zambia..including the mineral rich urban area...

    Therefore from a strategic point of higher growth, it seems counterintuitive that the very well endowed areas, have not been properly developed...

    In terms of policy solutions, I kind of touch on this in Chilli powered development? . There's much government can do to make the process "bottom up". The poor are not idle, they are not looking for handouts, just a little bit of help.

    I have yet to hear a candidate who recognises this.

    "Possibly another strategy would be to focus on provincial centers of development, so that people have less incentive to migrate to the existing large cities and instead find a place closer to home." - Kafue001

    Yeah, I think probably there's something to MrK's idea of decentralising power as a way of halting the rural-urban drift. I have though previously suggested that I am not sure how strong that effect would be...also implementing such decentralisation would require other measures e.g. education reform, health care provision and so forth.

    The The rural urban infrastructure divide... is also another challenge...so you need to fix that as well....

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  4. Hi LM, Cho,

    I would like to post a more extensive comment to this excellent post later on. KK has an article in The Post where he disparages neoliberal theory as it was forces on Zambia, and mentions the need for cooperatives in development.

    Here is an interesting article on the cooperatives and how they were let go of. What is interesting is that it is the imposition of methods, tools, crops and everything else from central goverment (top-down) that created a lot of dissonance in the functioning of these cooperatives. I would like to see more autonomous and decentralized cooperatives.

    Efforts and initiatives for supply of conservation tillage equipment in Zambia

    by Isaac Sakala

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  5. LM,

    I am yet to listen to HH and his plans for the country.

    What I have never heard is a candidate who can articulate how we can reduce poverty in rural Zambia, which by the wy includes improving rural education, health and transportation.

    I'm not a candidate, but I'll try.

    Can we go back to common sense ideology and bring community workers to rural areas? Can we motivate teachers to go to neglected school? Where are the coorperatives in Zambia? People in rural areas have the ditermination and will to move themselves up the economic ladder but they cannot do it without start-up support. Zambias economy will not improvr if we ignore what should be the core of economic growth. Even though we made some econoimic gain how do we make sure that economc growth trickles to the bottom?

    How about taking revenues from the mines and putting them into the old cooperatives? That would create a lot of jobs in the rural areas, as well as diversify the economy so mining is not as prominent. Agriculture and infrastructure should be very important growth sectors.

    But what is important is that economic growth involves the people themselves, not a tiny economic elite. That is the only way to eradicate poverty.

    Or do we start need to start from the bottom so we rise together?

    Exactly. Trickle Down theory has failed, and deregulation for the sake of deregulation seems to lead to an unending list of financial scandals and disasters (junk bonds, Saving & Loans, hedge funds and now the mortgage banking crisis).

    We need to revisit Roosevelt, Keynes, and wave goodbye to Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman.

    On top of that, I think we need to conceive of a model that takes into account culture and existing social fabrics, and build on those.

    These are some of the questions politicians should answer.

    Fortunately, the October elections are only one election, and the next is in 2011. So there is a lot of time left to engage them on an ideological level.

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