Social issues affecting Zambia

Social overview

Poverty levels in the country

Although Zambia was declared a low middle income country in 2011 and is said to have experienced economic growth, the majority of Zambia’s citizens remain poor. Results from the 2006 and 2010 Living Condition Monitory Surveys (LCMS), show that poverty levels have remained high despite recording a decline between 2006 and 2010. The proportion of the population falling below the poverty line reduced from 62.8 % in 2006 to 60.5 % in 2010. The percentage of the extremely poor marginally declined from 42.7 % to 42.3 %. The analysis further shows that poverty in Zambia has continued to be more of a rural than urban phenomenon with the level of rural poverty being three times that in urban areas. In 2010, rural poverty was estimated at 77.9 % compared to urban levels at 27.5 %. Whilst some results are positive, overall Zambia’s expenditure patterns do not suggest a strong focus on the rural poor. Slightly more women headed households (80%) live in poverty compared to male headed (78%).[1] Extreme poverty affects 60% of female headed households. Poverty results in increased manipulation of people which equally increases the levels of crime, insecurity and vulnerability

Youth unemployment

The national youth policy defines a youth as any person aged 15- 35 years. According to the 2013 Labor Force Survey, Zambia’s labour force was estimated at 5,845,250 of which 3,048,342 were male and 2,796,908 were female in 2012. The country recorded a labor force participation rate of 74.6 percent. The survey further states that youthful age groups were the most vulnerable to unemployment, with the highest rate recorded among the 20-24 year-olds at 16.3 percent. The total youth labour force stands at 5, 031, 513 of a total of 7,837,038 national labor force representing more than 64.2%. The youth unemployment rate increased from 58.4% in 2008 to 64.2% in 2012.

While thousands of youths leave schools and colleges every year, very few get absorbed into the job market with even fewer being able to embark on self-employment ventures. The continued increase in youth unemployment has the potential to cause conflicts in future. Unemployed youth may engage in petty and serious crimes in order to make ends meet. They are also highly vulnerable to being mobilized for political purposes which have in the past resulted in violence. For example currently youths are used as a tool of electoral intimidation and violence. Further, young people are very aware of and affected by the surrounding decay of political systems led by adults. Disillusionment with “the system” can be coupled with a strong degree of cynicism and willingness to take advantage of the same structures, along the lines of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’.

Access to Justice

Access to justice is more than improving an individual’s access to courts or guaranteeing legal representation as it extends to being the ability of people to seek and obtain a remedy through formal or informal institutions of justice for grievances in compliance with human rights standards within a reasonably specified period. In Zambia the society is still very far from closing up the gaps of fair justice between the elite and poorest of the communities. The challenges in ensuring access to justice for all include: inadequate infrastructure; inadequate personnel at local and national level; high cost of litigation, which tends to impact the women more than it does the men; inadequate logistical support to the justice institution; all these result in among other things delayed disposal of cases. Access to justice supports sustainable peace by affording the population a more attractive alternative to violence in resolving personal and political disputes and if this takes too long justice delivery is affected.

One of the cardinal responsibilities of any Government is to protect its citizens from various forms of harm and insecurity. Besides, effective promotion and protection of basic rights is a major indicator of a states’ capability to govern well. However, little has been done in terms of prioritizing the effective observance of human rights that secure the lives of women, youth and children. Additionally, institutions tasked with the responsibility of managing the enforcement of these frameworks continue to face severe funding challenges and staffing problems. The same applies to the observance of human rights- while Zambia has ratified several human rights conventions; there is still room for enhanced implementation of the different human rights standards.

SACCORD within this strategic plan will continue to work on advocating for Zambians to have better access to justice which is important in helping the country maintain her peace as people will be confident in their justice system for administering justice.

 Gender and conflict in Zambia

There is increasing acknowledgement that women and girls play multiple roles during conflict. They are not only victims of violence, but can also be active participants in the violence, directly as combatants, or indirectly, by facilitating violence through fundraising or inciting their male relatives to commit acts of violence. Women also often become heads of households during war; women and girls learn new skills and contribute to peace making and rebuilding local economies and communities. These changes in gender relations, however, are usually short-lived and societies resort back to traditional gender roles after conflict. Women also tend to be side-lined from formal conflict resolution and peacebuilding processes, and post-conflict recovery programmes often overlook women’s security needs. This compromises the inclusiveness and sustainability of peacebuilding efforts. Importantly, women and girls are not only victims of war; they are also powerful peace-builders whose efforts to prevent conflict and secure peace have been critical, yet largely unrecognized, under-resourced, and not integrated into formal peace processes. In Zambia, the linkages between gender and conflict are still unclear. There is inadequate data on the roles played by women in both fuelling conflict as well as in peacebuilding.

SACCORD intends to conduct a study aimed at shedding light on the links between gender and conflict/peace building in Zambia the overall strategies being employed will then be reviewed to ensure gender has been mainstreamed in the interventions. In addition, it will through its programmes consistently promote the greater involvement of women in conflict resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes.

Land

Zambia has two systems of land tenure namely customary and statutory. Customary land is land which is held in trust and administered by traditional leadership on behalf of their subjects whereas statutory land is held in trust and administered by the state. Over 85% of the land in Zambia is under customary tenure. However, both customary and statutory land is ultimately vested in the president of the republic of Zambia. Land in Zambia is increasingly becoming scarce, especially around towns and cities. As cities and towns grow, the likelihood of statutory land no longer being available remains high. For example, as of 2013 Petauke district in eastern province had ran out of statutory land. Also it is becoming difficult in some cases to allocate land for economic and industrial ventures such as mining if areas suitable for such ventures are in customary land especially if it is resided or used for livelihood of the locals – e.g. Kalumbila in Northwestern province.

With the increase in mining activities around the country, this has resulted in mass displacements of local Zambians. This has been exacerbated by feelings or perceptions by local people of not benefiting from their land from profits realized from these mining activities which has now become a source of conflict [1] GRZ Central statistical office, 2011, Living Conditions Monitoring Survey (2010)

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