Economic Growth and Practices in Zambia

Recent strides have rewarded Zambia with a strong economic growth rate of about 7.5 percent per year, which has resulted in reduced poverty in many rural and urban populations. This sustained growth over the past decade is largely a result of improved macroeconomic management as well as increased copper production. From 1991 to 2010 Zambia has also seen its extreme poverty rate decrease from 58 percent to 42.7 percent. While such news is encouraging when looking to the future of Zambia, concerns of food security still remain.

The number of people in jeopardy of being food insecure has increased from 63,000 in 2012 to roughly 209,000 people in 2013 according to the Zambia Vulnerability Assessment Committee. Some researchers say this increase of food insecurity in certain areas is a result of poor crop production, high dependence on rain-fed agriculture and an ongoing absence of market incentives which encourage a shift from subsistence farming.

Another cause of concern is Zambia’s national HIV prevalence rate which ranks 7th internationally at a rate of 12.7 percent. Also adding to the problem is a chronic malnutrition rate that stands at 45.4 percent.  Luckily, Zambia is currently teamed up with the Scaling Up Nutrition initiative, which focuses on nutritional issues and finding solutions to combat them.

Moreover, Zambia has hopes of putting poverty and dangerous health concerns behind it. Through the World Food Programme’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative, many small scale farmers have been able to expand their business and provide much needed services to the community.

“Lack of mechanized equipment is a big challenge for farmers,” said small-scale farmer Grimsdale Chiokoma Chonpure who utilizes the P4P initiative. “Relying on animal-drawn equipment creates a lot of problems because many animals get corridor disease and die. When we used ox-drawn carts to do the ripping, we would have to start preparing the land around May or June and wouldn’t finish until October. Now, we can do it all in one hour,” says Grimsdale.

Because of this initiative, small scale farmers have seen their personal livelihoods improve by saving much needed time and energy. In addition, small-scale farmers have had an immense impact on local communities by contributing vital services to local economies. Previously unfinished business is also making a comeback in the area as the Government of Zambia has recently signed a Mutual Accountability Framework with cooperating partners.

The agreement was signed by partners including the African Development Bank, Denmark, European Union, Finland, Gernmany, Ireland, Japan, Norway, and Sweden. This framework will outline the effective aid development practices and will allow the Government of Zambia to start 2014 with confidence and support. Previously unfinished partnerships in Paris, Accra, and Busan which were committed internationally to the region as late as 2005 will also be reevaluated. Even though risks concerning rising fiscal imbalances and increasing food insecurity remain a concern, international support and self-sustained farming practices have breathed fresh new air into Zambia’s growing economic lungs.

Jeffrey Scott Haley
Feature Writer

Sources: World Food Programme, Times of Zambia