'More Zimbabweans sinking into poverty'

HARARE - More Zimbabweans are sinking into poverty compared to the situation at the beginning of the decade, figures released yesterday show.

According to the latest Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstats) survey for 2011/2012, cases of extreme poverty have however, reduced.

In a document entitled Poverty and Poverty Datum Line Analysis in Zimbabwe 2011/12, Zimstats states that although individual poverty prevalence in Zimbabwe improved between 1995 and 2001, it worsened in 2011.

“Individual poverty prevalence for Zimbabwe dropped from 75,6 percent in 1995 to 70,9 percent in 2001 and then rose to 72,3 percent in 2011.

However, persons in extreme poverty have also declined from 47,2 percent in 1995 to 41,5 percent in 2001 then further declined to 22,5 percent in 2011,” reads the report.

According to the report, the impact of economic decline experienced in the last decade negatively affected all sectors of the economy.

The introduction of Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme, (Sterp), and the three-year Macroeconomic Policy and Budget Framework, and the crafting of the Medium Term Plan, have played a pivotal role in economic recovery.

“There is, however, some fragility in the economy due to limited fiscal space which has led to low levels in public investment in social sectors thereby negatively impacting on poverty. Since independence, poverty reduction has been a primary objective and, over time, Zimbabwe has been relatively successful in addressing the needs of the poor,” reads the report.

“The macro-economic crisis of the last decade has, however, increased the urgency of the challenge, and development of policy requires substantial analysis of correlates of poverty and how they change over time,” noted the report.

The report measured the wellbeing and welfare of citizens in a bid to ascertain poverty levels. It states that poverty is far worse in rural areas than in urban set ups.

Poverty varied significantly among households across provinces and within provinces. The prevalence of household poverty ranges from a low of 34,5 percent in Bulawayo to 81,7 percent in Matabeleland North, which is primarily rural.

It also shows that rural poverty is most prevalent in communal lands followed by resettlement areas.
The worst living conditions are in resettlement areas with 42,9 percent of the households having no toilet facilities at all while 42,8 percent receive their water from unprotected wells or a surface 8water supply such as rivers, streams and dams.

Director General of Zimstats Mutasa Dzinotizei said Zimbabwe was unable to produce a poverty datum line analysis in 2007/2008 due to a number of challenges.

“Data should have an impact on policy formulation and this report is different because it was able to establish the contribution of the informal sector and it has representations of the provincial areas,” he said. - Margaret Chinowaita, Community Affairs Editor

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