Lack of access to clean energy and secondary school education are part of the biggest contributors to poverty in Zambia

A new report highlights the importance of "Multidimensional poverty as a basis for formulating poverty reduction policies".

Lack of access to clean Energy and secondary school education attainment remained part of the biggest contributors to acute poverty in Zambia in 2014.

A report published today by ZIPAR states that many households relied on unclean energy such as charcoal, wood and cow dung to meet their cooking energy needs. The report also shows that many people, especially those heading households in Zambia have not attained secondary education.

The report indicates that in Zambia, poverty is traditionally measured and understood from the perspective of money or income. People living in poverty are those who fall below a pre-defined income or expenditure threshold commonly referred to as a poverty line. The current poverty line stands at US$1.90 a day internationally. 

However, the Researchers argue that in reality, poverty is about more than just money, incomes or expenditures. The poor do not only lack money, but other important basic needs and services whose absence may impact negatively on their well-being.

Often overlooked, but just as important is the ability to satisfy hunger or access sufficient nutrition. Other important aspects poor people lack are access to treatment for curable diseases, adequate clothing, shelter, clean water or sanitary facilities such as clean toilets.

To address the scale of the poverty challenge in Zambia, the ZIPAR report proposes an additional approach to measuring poverty which provides another picture of the poverty situation in Zambia. This approach is multidimensional in nature, which means it considers additional poverty indicators alongside the traditional income approach.

The report highlights some of the important aspects of human needs and the extent to which the population are lacking in them. These basic human needs include health, education and living conditions. In this regard, the poor are those who have no access to basic human needs such as health services, education, shelter, clothing, clean water and toilets.

Felix Mwenge, Research Fellow at ZIPAR said,

Multidimensional poverty is currently being used in a number of countries around the world as a basis for formulating poverty reduction policies. The approach can become a useful tool in understanding other aspects of poverty in Zambia like never before. If data continues to be available this report would become a periodic report to be published as often as possible and its findings could fit into planning by the Government.

Notes to Editors

  1. This is based on a report titled "Recounting the Miseries of the Poor: A Multidimensional Measurement of Poverty in Zambia" The report is found at

  2. ZIPAR is a socio-economic think-tank whose mandate is to conduct research and policy analysis. ZIPAR was established by the Government Republic of Zambia (GRZ) with the support of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF).

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