The cost of living in Lusaka has again increased to a record-breaking K5,575, triggered by continued rises in food prices, according to the Jesuit Centre of Theological Reflection.

In a statement, the JCTR stated that the cost of living in March leaped to an unprecedented K5,575, the highest-ever recorded, since the inception of their Basic Needs Basket (BNB), from K5,385 recorded in February this year.

JCTR stated in its BNB, which normally takes into account the cost of living for a family of five across 15 major urban towns in the country, that Lusaka’s highest cost of living had been triggered by huge increases in the cost of food items such as kapenta, mealie-meal and tomatoes.

“The March 2018 JCTR BNB for a family of five living in Lusaka stood at K5,575, which was K190 more than the February BNB which stood at K5,385,” JCTR stated in a press statement released Wednesday by its social & economic development programme officer, Chanda Paul Chileshe.

“The most significant increase was noted in dry fish, which increased by K27 from K111 in February to K138 in March per kg of fish. A 25kg bag of mealie-meal increased by K9 from K67 in February to K76 in March. Kapenta increased by K20 from K217 in February to K237 in March per kg. Tomatoes increased by K11 from K15 in February to K26 in March per kg.”

The JCTR noted that the increments and price fluctuations were attributed to the extension of the fish ban, which led to prolonged reduction in supply of fish and kapenta on the market.

“This prompted traders to increase prices of these two commodities. Changes in the rainfall pattern caused a variety of problems for producers. Cases of high rainfall in some places caused devastation losses of crops, which led to reduced supply of tomatoes and onion on the market,” JCTR added.

“The stock of maize on the market reduced and this led to increase in mealie-meal prices. The increase in fuel prices also led to increased production costs for millers, which triggered prices for mealie-meal to increase.”

And JCTR, the renowned Catholic­run organisation, expressed worry over the escalating commodity prices that are depriving Zambians of a dignified life.

“JCTR is worried that commodity prices are increasing every month at a very fast rate and this is preventing people from living a dignified life. High cost of living is causing suffering on the poor as many are unemployed and have no reliable source of income to afford the continued price increase of basic needs,” stated JCTR.

The cost of living in the capital city stands way above all other urban towns in the country, with Ndola in second place at K4,845.21, while Kitwe’s cost of living stood at K4,537.17.