Fighting poverty

The deepening poverty among Zambians is a matter of deep concern.
The 2013 Millennium Development Goal report shows that the current pace of poverty reduction in Zambia is too slow for the country to achieve the goal of eradicating extreme hunger and poverty.
Extreme poverty the report shows has continued to haunt the country and unless specific acceleration policy changes targeted at rural investment are undertaken the situation is expected to stagnate and perhaps deteriorate.
The MDG were expected to improve the social and economic circumstances of the ordinary Zambian people but sadly the Minister of Finance Mr. Alexander Chikwanda has warned that Zambia may not achieve the MDG goals due to serious challenges that the country faces.
This admission is a telling indictment on the priorities that Government has set for itself, in view of the pressing demand for urgent poverty amelioration measures.
Although the report suggests that poverty is most serious in rural areas the reality is that the urban areas suffer the worst possible privation which shows in the number of children that die of malnutrition and related ailments in urban areas.
The urban areas also show the large poverty gap ratios with the poor living in miserable conditions while the affluent enjoy ostentatious  wealth.
An indication of the deep poverty levels suffered by most Zambians can be gauged from the high mortality levels in the country. Although the report suggests that this indicator has improved by showing a decline of almost 30 percent since 1992 , this is still unacceptably high.
One step into Ward AO7 at the University Teaching Hospital is a sobering reminder that statistics do not often depict the graphic suffering and misery that a large percentage of the population is suffering.
Neither do the figures capture the pain and anguish of the parents who lose their children to preventable causes such as malnutrition, malaria, measles and other others. And since these happen among the poor and underprivileged, they often go unreported.
The cold statistics of deaths from malnutrition should guide the appreciation and therefore resource allocation priorities; because the genesis lies in the overall poverty of the people which does not appear to be improving in spite of reports to the contrary.
Urban poverty appears to be deepening, a fact borne by the graphic images of Ward AO7.
Among the real people in Lusaka are those so steeped in poverty that they survive on one meal a day, draw water from shallow wells which are contaminated by fecal matter from adjacent pit latrines.
The situation in many unplanned settlements is so pathetic that any suggestion of improvement is an insult to the victims of unemployment, hunger and poverty.
That is why it is important that the Government must immediately formulate programmes that will tackle basic underlying causes of poverty by finding new programmes of wealth creation.
It is in this regard that Government expenditure must be directed towards this singular effort instead of the more political activities including by elections. By creating wealth and putting Zambian into productive engagement the rest of the millennium goals will be attained.
None of the other goals will be achieved for as long as Zambians wallow in poverty.