Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health – Hon. Emerine Kabanshi, Hon. CSO Director, Mr. John Kalumbi, Senior Government Officials. Members of the Media, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
First, let me take this opportunity to thank the Zambian Government for the ongoing collaboration in our common agenda to uplift the lives of Zambians and promote economic growth. The World Bank’s current commitment to investment operations in Zambia amounts to US$570 million. This financing is complemented by analytical and advisory work, and other global knowledge that helps Government in making decisions on policies, programs and reforms.
This report on Mapping Subnational Poverty in Zambia is an example of work that we do to help Government make informed decisions. Last year, the Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Central Statistical Office (CSO) and the World Bank embarked on a poverty mapping project aimed at creating poverty estimations up to the lowest administrative levels in the country using the 2010 Census of Population and Housing, and the Living Conditions Monitoring Survey of 2010. Hon. Minister, at the outset, I really would like to commend Government for this type of collaboration. It makes working on development such a pleasure as we think through challenges together using the same information basis.
Through this report we are launching today, we now know that some of the poorest wards in Zambia 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. We also learn that those 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 rainfall precipitation.
As you see, the whole exercise of mapping poverty is important for enhancing current understanding of the country’s distribution of poverty and the geographic and biophysical conditions where the poor live. Honorable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is our view that this information will assist policy makers, Development Partners and other stakeholders in designing interventions to reduce poverty. Such information is even more critical now considering that Zambia’s recent economic growth of above 6% has not improved living conditions for the poor. I’m here thinking of people in places such as Kapiri Mposhi, and Mansa in Central and Luapula Provinces respectively, which have very high concentrations of poor populations not yet enjoying the economic growth rates and Zambia’s status as a lower middle income country. Such people must be reached.
Perhaps, the most significant and immediate impact of the information contained in this report is the shift towards an evidence-based approach to policy making and resource allocation in the areas that need them most. Information on poverty at constituency and ward levels can be compared against access to amenities such as markets, schools and health facilities to derive plans for a faster and better access to such amenities. Such information could also be contrasted with job growth poles and local agriculture development.
Hon. Minister, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to share with you a very practical example of how the Kenya Constituency Development Fund uses poverty estimates at subnational levels to allocate part of its resources to cater for poorer constituencies. The Kenya CDF targets development projects at grassroots level in constituencies. Part of the resources of the CDF are divided equitably among Kenya’s 210 constituencies, whilst the remaining portion is divided based on a poverty index to cater for poorer constituencies. This has helped to achieve equitable distribution of development resources across regions, and to control imbalances in regional development brought about by partisan politics.
Zambia also has a Constituency Development Fund. The estimates of poverty ranges at the constituency level could be a powerful tool for allocating transfers in the Zambia CDF. Such an approach could facilitate the putting up of new water, health and education facilities in remote areas of the country that would otherwise get overlooked during funds allocation in national budgets.
Honorable Minister, we are aware of the Government’s commitment towards reducing poverty and in particular the expansion of its safety net system through programs such as the Social Cash Transfer Scheme and the preparation of the Rural Women Empowerment Project. This effort is commendable as it will make a dent on poverty if well implemented. While there is a need to be judicious about the information constraints to undertake some of these tasks, it is clear that using the subnational poverty estimates obtained in the report would be extremely helpful in improving the geographic allocation of resources to the poor as part of these interventions.
Honorable Minister, CSO Director, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me conclude by confirming that the World Bank is indeed fully committed to a continued partnership with Zambia as it strives toward lessening poverty. The mapping report we are launching today attests to this, and further, we are already supporting the CSO to conduct the next round of the Living Conditions Monitoring Survey this year. The new survey will provide vital baseline information for National Development Plans, and for us all to measure and rethink results for Zambia’s development.
I thank you for your attention.