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New Report Helps Zambia’s Government Reach Its Poorest


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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A new World Bank poverty mapping exercise provides comprehensive data to support the government’s goal of reducing poverty
  • The report shows vast differences in poverty rates within the different districts, constituencies and wards in the country
  • The subnational poverty estimates in the report will assist the government in its scale up of poverty-reducing programs, such as cash transfers which provide payments to the country’s poor

LUSAKA, March 27, 2015 – A new World Bank report is providing a detailed view of Zambia’s poorest households and areas to help the government provide support to those who need it most.

Using data from 2010, the report, Mapping Subnational Poverty in Zambia, shows estimated poverty rates by administrative divisions of the country, such as districts, constituencies and wards. According to the report, some of the poorest wards are concentrated in the Western, North Western, and Luapula provinces, while the largest concentrations of the poor population are located in some of the wards in the Lusaka, Eastern, Central, and Northern provinces. 


" Zambia is a large country with clear pockets of poverty in some areas, but there is also a huge dispersion of poverty between rural and urban areas and within its provinces. Based on this data, it is clear that well-targeted support using the subnational poverty estimates obtained in the report would be extremely helpful in improving the allocation of resources to the poor "

Alejandro de la Fuente

Senior World Bank economist

“It is clear that well-targeted support using the subnational poverty estimates obtained in the report would be extremely helpful in improving the allocation of resources to the poor,”  said Alejandro de la Fuente, senior World Bank economist and lead author of the report. 

The report also shows that there is a need to identify the areas with the largest concentration of poor people, rather than just providing analysis on poverty rates, de la Fuente said. For example, in rankings based on the percentage of the poor population, the constituency of Kapiri Mposhi ranks 101 out of 150 constituencies. However, based on the number of poor people, Kapiri Mposhi ranks first, with a total of 175,504 people living below the poverty line.

Although the country has enjoyed recent economic growth of above 6%, this growth has not improved living conditions for the poor, especially for those who live in remote areas. Much of the country’s gainful economic activities are concentrated primarily in the highly-urbanized Copperbelt and Lusaka regions. As a result, Zambia has one of the highest concentrations of inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa, partly because of the huge income gap that exists between rural and urban areas.

In addition to focusing on continued economic growth, the government is committed to reducing poverty through various government programs, including cash transfers which provide regular cash payments to poor households. Proposed funding for the social cash transfer program nearly tripled from K72.1 billion in FY13 to K199.2 billion in FY14, as the government plans to reach as many as 500,000 households by 2016.


" This report supports Zambia’s government as it moves toward less poverty "

Kundhavi Kadiresan

World Bank country director for Zambia

“It is essential to identify pockets of poverty to provide adequate services to help the resilient people of Zambia achieve prosperity. The report also provides essential information for policymakers to prioritize the use of scarce resources in areas that need them,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, World Bank country director for Zambia. 

Completed in close partnership with the Central Statistical Office of Zambia, the poverty mapping report combines three types of data: census data from the 2010 Census of Population and Housing, household survey data from the Living Conditions Monitoring Survey 2010, and additional health, education and infrastructure data.

“The poverty mapping will enable us better target programs and scarce resources to the extremely poor households,” said Emerine Kabanshi, Zambia’s Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, “This is something that our Government is excited about as it is crucial if poverty is to be reduced,” she adds.



Key Messages

  • Using 2010 data, the report obtained poverty estimates at the district, constituency and ward levels
  • Some of the poorest wards are concentrated in the Western, North Western and Luapula provinces, while the largest concentrations of the poor population are in some of the wards in the Lusaka, Eastern, Central, and Northern provinces
  • The wards with highest poverty rates are also those with lower rates of household education, higher numbers of individuals employed in the agricultural sector, farther average distances to primary and tertiary roads, and lowest concentrations of precipitation
  • The identification of areas with large concentrations of poor people complements the analysis of poverty rates
  • Using poverty criteria for the allocation of cash transfers beyond districts can help target more people, as poverty varies greatly between districts, constituencies and wards