Poverty, inequality and growth in Zambia during the 1990s

Poverty, inequality and growth in Zambia during the 1990s

Paper reanalyses the household survey data from three out of four surveys carried out in Zambia in the 1990s, in order to chart the evolution of poverty and inequality during that decade. In addition, the economic policies pursued during the 1990s are described in detail, enabling linkages to be drawn between the policies implemented and the observed changes in poverty and inequality.

Paper provides description of:

  • Zambia’s economic performance since independence
  • economic performance during the 1990s and the economic policies pursued, focussing upon stabilisation, agricultural marketing reform, trade reform and privatisation
  • household survey data used and the steps taken to ensure the comparability of different surveys across time

calculated changes in poverty and inequality are then presented.

Paper concludes that poverty increased dramatically in urban areas between 1991 and 1996 because of the recession induced in part by the structural reforms undertaken and decreased substantially between 1996 and 1998 in rural areas due to rapid growth. It suggests that policy reforms must focus upon the most effective way of generating sustained positive per capita growth. It is highly unlikely that Zambia will meet the International Development Target by growth alone. It is therefore important that policy focuses upon generating pro-poor growth. For rural areas this means allowing poor farmers to exploit their agricultural potential with better rural infrastructure and improved markets for key agricultural inputs and services.

In urban areas the future is likely to lie in the development of labour-intensive export oriented agro-processing industries to add value to agricultural sector production.

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