Govt not doing enough to alleviate poverty – CSPR

Civil Society for Poverty Reduction executive director Patrick Nshindano says government has not done enough to alleviate poverty in the country.

In an interview, Nshindano noted that government had acknowledged this in a speech presented to Parliament by President Edgar Lungu last Friday.

“Given the high poverty levels in Zambia, all successive governments have not done what they should have; we should not be at a level where we are. Zambia is currently one of the most unequal societies, if you look at our poverty level which is standing at 54%, our national average that is extremely high, even when you compare to our national wealth which we have,” Nshindano said.

He said the only way to eradicate poverty was to have deliberate interventions targeted towards that.

“We tend to be focusing on one growth at the expense of poverty reduction with expectation that once economy grows, it’s going to trickle down to benefit the vulnerable. But it does not work like that. We need to ensure that deliberate interventions of reducing poverty such as empowerment, job creation, ensuring that there is equal participation of women and children are made,” he said.

And Nshindano said there was need to educate farmers on drought resistant crops as it was important in the face of climate change.

“According to the Head of State’s speech of the national address in Parliament last week, he did indicate that one of the indicators or cause of poverty in Zambia is climate change; such as issues to do with drought, floods, and so on. Yes we have had instances in Zambia where we had droughts and sometime we have quiet good rains in the region. But that cannot be overruled to say climate change does also play a critical role in terms of ensuring that there is food security especially when you are looking at agriculture,” Nshindano said.

“And all these issues are usually attributed to climate change because it does play a critical role in poverty reduction and there is need for education in agriculture especially on how agriculture is dealt with. Providing extension services that are suppose to educate our farmers on what crops to grow such as drought resistant crops which are going to give them the highest yields in a particular year. We are very short of extension services in terms of personnel. There is a huge gap for people to provide that limited service. Traditional practices also contribute to climate change, and extension services would be able to support a farmer from traditional farming practices in terms of a more sustainable practices, social protection interventions, corruption, and utilization of resources.”

In his State of the Nation address to Parliament last week, President Lungu said poverty in Zambia had been aggravated by climate change.

“Poverty in Zambia has been aggravated by climate change. In the face of climate change, the occurrence of natural disasters such as droughts and floods have become common. This has been worsened by the high rate of deforestation and land degradation. Climate change is in turn contributing to low crop yields, posing a threat to household and national food security,” said President Lungu.

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