The Human Development Unit conducts research in areas of poverty, education, health, labour markets and other social sectors. The unit provides a resource base on objectively researched policy issues in the social sector in Zambia, and to build capacity in social policy analysis, especially in government and private sector.
The unit’s core works planned for the year 2019 will include the following activities:
a) Multi-dimensional Poverty Measurement
This project aims at exploring alternative the 2015 LCMS to use it to measure poverty and inequality using multi-dimensional approaches. The work is significant as it provides a robust way of measuring national development from a broader perspective other than monetary. This study has been carried forward from the 2018 Work Plan.
b) Analysis of the Institutional Framework of the Youth Development Fund in Zambia
In 2017 ZIPAR finalized the evaluation of the Youth Development Fund (YDF) which was aimed at providing youth-led enterprises with capital and business development support. Given the country’s high youth unemployment and limited job opportunities, the YDF was seen as part of the solution. It was envisaged that youth businesses would be supported and eventually grow to create jobs not only for owners but for other youth. However, an evaluation of the program found that while some jobs were created, they were too few compared to the amount of resources that were invested in the program. The factors that contributed to the dismal performance of the YDF include the general deterioration of the economy at the time some of the youths got loans, poor choice of business activities and lack of experience among some of the recipients. Another key factor was the institutional arrangements that were set up to manage the fund. The institutional arrangements were so important that all systems such as loan disbursements, repayments and selection of beneficiaries were all dependent on them. The institutional arrangements also presided over the system of project appraisal which guided how projects were selected for funding. Based on the various roles that were played by the institutional framework, their design played a critical role in the outcome of the YDF. In view of the foregoing, this paper provides an analysis of the institutional framework that was set up to implement the YDF and the role it played in shaping the YDF and the final outcomes of the program. Given that the institutional framework was at the bedrock of the running of the YDF program, a detailed analysis of how it worked would provide important insights for designing of future youth empowerment programs.
c) Factors influencing the success of the Youth Development Funded Enterprises in Zambia
In 2014, the Government allocated a total of K16 million to the Youth Development Fund (YDF). This amount represents a 63% real growth of the fund within just 3 years of its existence. Over the same period the number of youth beneficiaries nearly doubled, from 265 to 519. The amount of resources committed to the YDF is an indication of the commitment and the faith the Government had in the programs in order to reduce youth unemployment. However, although the YDF has continued to increase in terms of both resources and number of beneficiaries, it has not created enough jobs to help reduce youth unemployment as was the original objective. An evaluation of its impact shows that only 742 jobs were created over a period of 4 years. The evaluation also shows that the YDF did not significantly improve the welfare of its beneficiaries.
Additionally, while the original design was for the YDF to be a revolving fund, most of the youths who obtained loans did not repay. At the time of the evaluation in 2016, only 16% of the loans had been recovered. This implies that more youths could not benefit from the revolving nature of the fund and the treasury kept pumping in resources making the fund not only inefficient but also unsustainable. In view of the foregoing it is important that a detailed analysis of the factors that influenced successful youth businesses is undertaken to be able to inform policy. In the process the paper will also be able to outline factors associated with failure of youth businesses.
d) Explaining the high levels of Child Stunting among Wealthy Households in Zambia
Child malnutrition is one of the critical challenges that Zambia currently faces. The common measures of child malnutrition include stunting, underweight, wasting and obesity. The highest rate in Zambia of the child malnutrition indicators is stunting and will be the focus of this study. The prevalence of stunting among children under the age of five currently stands at 40 percent while underweight and wasting prevalence stand at 15 percent and 6 percent respectively.2 These statistics have barely changed from 1992 estimates of 40 percent, 5 percent and 25 percent for stunting, wasting and underweight respectively. These indicators especially stunting which is a measure of long-term childhood nutritional deprivation is a major cause of adverse cognitive development. It affects school performance and childhood brain impairment which affects labour productivity and earning in later life.3 Globally, malnutrition is said to be directly or indirectly responsible for 35 percent of deaths among children under five.4 In Zambia, malnutrition is said to be a major public health problem which contributes to a significant number of all under five deaths.5 We must be worried about child malnutrition as its effects after the first two years of a child’s life are irreversible. The study therefore seeks to investigate the underlying causes of stunting especially among the wealthiest households and provide policy recommendations on how to address this problem.
e) Scoping Analysis of the Labour Market Information System in Zambia
Labour markets thrive on strong and up to date information systems. A strong and up to date labour market information system is useful not only for tracking job growth but also for mapping where jobs are and the sectors that are contributing to job growth. Relevant information is key to giving an accurate depiction of the labour market as it benefits both the job seekers and the employers and ultimately leads to good decision making. Access to excellent quality, comprehensive and timely information is relevant to the labour market. Unfortunately Zambia still lacks a strong and robust labour market information system. The aim of this study is to undertake a scoping analysis of the existing labour market information system, its attributes, gaps, weaknesses and opportunities. The study will also provide the kind of information that can be obtained from the current system and assess its appropriateness and relevance.
Human Development Research Team
- Felix Mwenge
- Miselo Bwalya
- Tamara Billima-Mulenga