Zambia is the continent’s biggest copper producer. A relatively stable and democratic country, it registered continued economic growth in recent years. Zambia has not been plagued by conflict, as have many of its neighbours, and the people brought about regime change peacefully in the last election.
Yet poverty remains widespread, and there is a wide gap between the rich and the poor; according to the Living Conditions Monitoring Survey Report, released in December 2011 by the Central Statistics Office, Zambia has one of the highest inequality indices in Sub-Saharan Africa at 50%.
National rates of chronic malnutrition are unacceptably high, with an average of 45% for children under five years being stunted, according to the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR). The JCTR Rural Basket, a quarterly survey that measures nutritional poverty and social service delivery in selected rural districts of Zambia, continues to reflect serious income and nutritional deficiencies.
Addressing poverty and food security is critical, especially in rural areas. There are about 500,000 small-scale farmers in Zambia, providing about 60% of national food consumption. Yet they are hard pressed to survive. One of the partners of CJI, the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre (KATC), offers training and support in organic farming.
Another big problem that Zambia faces is a very high death rate, largely due to HIV prevalence. Although it has dropped in recent years, HIV prevalence remains steep at 13.5%. In 2009, there were 980,000 people living with HIV in Zambia and some 690,000 children were orphaned due to AIDS.
Parishes in Zambia, especially in Lusaka, have long been involved in the struggle against HIV, running home-based care program to care for those affected. St Mary”s Parish in Matero, Lusaka, has one such long-running program.
Zambia news and articles:
• Women and Development: Reflections from Zambia by Sr Kayula Lesa RSC