Stability sees Zimbabwe poverty decline

By Drum Digital
01 October 2013

Zimbabwe has seen the greatest reduction in poverty among the 35 African countries surveyed as part of the latest Afrobarometer poverty survey.

Zimbabwe has seen the greatest reduction in poverty among the 35 African countries surveyed as part of the latest Afrobarometer poverty survey, released on Tuesday.

The survey found that one result of the stability brought about following the formation of a government of national unity in Zimbabwe in 2008 was a reduction in poverty.

"Following the disputed and highly flawed 2008 election, a government of national unity was put into place," the survey stated.

"The previous opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), gained control of the Ministry of Finance. One apparent result of this 'peace dividend' was a rapid fall in lived poverty..."

The country received a Lived Poverty Index (LPI) score of 1.36 for 2012, versus the 2.02 it received in 2008, a peak for the country.

Four reflects a constant absence of all basic necessities, while zero reflects no poverty.

This contrasts with Zimbabwe's 2002 score of 1.71, and score of 1.98 in 2005.

South Africa, however, saw a slight increase in poverty between 2002 and 2012, according to the survey.

South Africa scored 0.81, while in 2002 it received 0.71, 0.82 in 2005, and 0.89 in 2008.

Nearly a quarter -- 22 percent -- of South Africans experienced cash income shortages many times or always.

Thirty-four percent experienced the same shortage once, twice or several times while 44 percent of South Africans never experienced cash income shortages.

Between 2011 and 2013, 60 percent of South Africans never experienced water shortages, while 29 percent did so once, twice or several times.

Eleven percent experienced water shortages many times or always.

Medical shortages were always experienced, or many times, by eight percent of South Africans, while 31 percent experienced the same shortages once, twice, or several times.

Most South Africans -- 60 percent -- never experienced medical shortages, according to the survey.

Regarding cooking fuel shortages, eight percent of South Africans always or many times experienced such shortages, 30 percent once, twice, or several times, and 62 percent never.

When South African respondents were asked what they thought of the current condition of the national economy, 47 percent said the economy was fairly or very bad, 17 percent said neither good nor bad, while 34 percent said very or fairly good.

Compared to the condition of the national economy a year ago, 33 percent of South Africans said the economy had become worse or much worse, while 36 percent said the economy was the same.

South Africa received the sixth lowest LPI score, with the combined average being 1.26 across the surveyed countries.

The countries with an LPI score lower than South Africa were Tunisia (0.69), Morocco (0.68), Ghana (0.61), Algeria (0.32), and Mauritius (0.2).

Of other countries in southern Africa, Namibia received 0.99, Botswana 1.07, Zambia 1.23, Mozambique 1.23, Swaziland 1.31, Madagascar 1.52, and Lesotho 1.75, the fifth highest LPI overall.

The countries above Lesotho were Senegal (1.77), Guinea (1.78), Niger (1.81), Burundi (1.85) and Togo (1.89)

The surveyed showed "significant correlations between access to electrical grids, piped water, and other basic services in communities and lower levels of lived poverty.

"Higher levels of formal education also correlate with sharply lower experiences of deprivation," according to the survey.

The survey found that east and west Africans encountered the most shortages while north Africans experienced the lowest levels of deprivation.

The survey conducted 54,005 face-to-face interviews across 35 countries between October 2011 and June 2013.

Ethiopia's data was not yet available.

-by Sapa

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