POVERTY in Zambia should be declared as Zambiaâ€™s number-one enemy. We should all see poverty as our enemy. We should not relentÂ Â on the fight against poverty. We should stand up together and fight it.
Poverty has made our people suffer. Recently President Edgar Lungu said: â€œIt hurts me. It is unacceptable and we must all join the crusade against poverty, not through dazzling rhetoric but through working hard. I am fully aware of the depths of poverty that continue to afflict the great majority of our people. It unsettles me to see families go hungry. I am aware of the many mothers that walk long distances in order to give birth; to collect water; to take children to schoolâ€¦ I am aware of many young people who still cannot access a decent education; the many youths without jobs. This saddens me!â€
Indeed poverty saddens everyone. Poverty is the deadliest weapon that has killed a number of Zambians. We hear people committing suicide simply because they could not raise money for school. People commit suicide because there was no food at home. People are deprived of education because of poverty. Some people are engaged in illicit activities because of poverty.
We hear of reports of families that have created eating timetables. A timetable that gives a chance to every family member to eat. Father and mother may eat at lunch while children eat dinner. We have also head of reports of children being defiled because their parents or brothers or neighbours want to be rich. Street kids are spending sleepless nights without food.
There have been reports of family members killing each other because of food. Homes are being destroyed because of poverty. This really saddens everyone in Zambia. The rich are getting richer while the poor are becoming poorer.
Poverty is our number-one enemy and it should be treated as such. Today, we live with more awareness and concern about poverty than at any time in our Zambian history. More than ever, people can see or read about poverty.
Poverty can no longer be kept secret. Poverty is visible and can be seen on peopleâ€™s faces. If you walk to communities such as Chibolya, Msisi, Mandevu, George and Kanyama, just to mention a few, you will see poverty. Poverty is everywhere. Peopleâ€™s lives are deplorable. People are living in abject poverty. Families are depressed.
Today, Zambia is one of the poorest nations in the world. The World Bank classifies Zambia as a least developed country. A look at the social indicators reveals a declining trend over time, clearly showing the worsening living conditions of most Zambians. Life expectancy is declining. Mortality rates are among the highest in the world. The number of orphans has increased.
The effects of poverty are most often interrelated so that one problem hardly ever occurs alone. For instance, bad sanitation makes it easier to spread around old and new diseases, and hunger and lack of water make people more vulnerable to them. Impoverished communities often suffer from discrimination and end up caught in cycles of poverty.
So, we should unite and fight poverty. We should fight all vices that cause poverty. We should educate people that poverty is bad. We should devise plans that would ensure that the problem is wiped out from society.
Letâ€™s fight it with vigour and hard work. The fight against poverty should be embraced by everyone. Every person should stand up and fight against poverty.
Politicians should not only talk but they should inspire their communities in the fight against poverty.
The author is president of Zambian Society for Public Administration and Society for Family Business.