THE Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection JCTR) says 2021 looks more challenging as costs continue to rise at the backdrop of key macroeconomic challenges.
The Centre attributes this to the country’s high debt, slow growth and COVID-19 compromised livelihoods.
During a stakeholder engagement on the cost of living amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and growing inequality, JCTR programme officer Modester Mwanza said families in selected high-density areas of Lusaka faced difficulties in meeting their basic needs and requirements in both 2019 and 2020.
“2021 looks more challenging as costs continue to go up at the backdrop of key macroeconomic challenges on account of debt, slow growth and COVID-19 compromised livelihoods observed through variables such as lack of access to adequate meals. If not addressed, human dignity is unable to be ensured,” she said. “Significant gaps seen in average incomes against the cost of living as measured by JCTR…even for an income earner of K3,000, a gap still exists between the cost of living and income.”
Mwanza said both the Basic Needs and Nutritional Basket (BNNB) and Satellite Home Survey research show that there exists a number of challenges in accessing basic needs of life which was preventing people from living a dignified life.
She said the government should prioritise the creation of decent jobs so that workers get an income that allows them to afford basic needs.
Mwanza said there was need to invest more in the agriculture sector to balance food security and nutritional intake.
“This can be done by promoting crop diversification and ensuring that traditional crops like cassava, sweet potatoes, fruits etc, are grown throughout the year to avoid price discrimination and hunger which comes when the price of maize goes up on the market,” she said. “It is for this reason that more focus has to be directed to social protection in order to protect the most vulnerable in society.”
Mwanza also said general factors affecting pricing of commodities included the rising exchange rate.