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Zimbabwe, December 2015: Government, UNICEF and the World Bank launch ground-breaking Poverty Atlas

By Richard Nyamanhindi

© UNICEF Zimbabwe/2015/Nyamanhindi

UNICEF, the World Bank and the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (ZimStat), have launched for the first time in the country, the Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas 2015.

The Atlas identifies provinces, districts and wards with the highest concentration of people living in households below the poverty datum line, with the objective of mapping where there is a greater concentration of poverty.

The results of the Poverty Atlas indicates that poverty is most widespread in wards located in rural districts while those in urban districts have lower incidences. There, however, exist pockets of poverty in urban areas in places such as Epworth (on the periphery of Harare), which has 65 per cent poverty prevalence, and Harare Rural with 61 per cent.

Poverty was found to be most prevalent in Matabeleland North Province (86 per cent) while it is least prevalent in Harare (36 per cent) and Bulawayo (37 per cent). The rest of the provinces have poverty prevalence rates ranging between 65 and 76 per cent.

Speaking during the launch of the Atlas, Dr. Desire Sibanda – the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion said the Atlas is a vital policy-making tool, critical for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Detailed poverty data is crucial in monitoring and evaluating progress made by Zimbabwe towards achieving the goals of the Agenda 2030, known as Sustainable Development Goals.”

“The Atlas will be used to target marginalized areas in need of food assistance in line with the Zero Hunger Challenge which is an international multi-sectoral call for action by the United Nations Secretary General in 2012.”

“The Atlas will also form part of the important tools for monitoring the implementation of the Zimbabwe Food and Nutrition Policy which promotes food and nutrition security,” he said.

Dr. Sibanda said that poverty maps reveal pockets of poverty which might be overlooked by economic planners and implementers and would assist in the drive towards inclusive growth.

“In pursuing inclusive growth poverty maps need to be updated to reflect the changing circumstances of households over time,” he added.

The UNICEF Deputy Representative, Dr. Jane Muita, speaking at the launch of the Atlas, highlighted the importance of consistently collecting and analyzing data to monitor poverty particularly that related to children.

“Despite global recognition of child poverty as a universal issue, there are no consistent and updated estimates of child poverty. As a result, children are rarely recognized in poverty alleviation efforts and their needs are not appropriately addressed,” said Dr. Muita.

The UNICEF Deputy Representative also stressed on the need to place greater emphasis on equity and physical needs of children when looking at poverty and not just focus on monetary poverty. This is because progress toward reducing poverty has been uneven during the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and lowest among those who need it most, who also happen to be the hardest to reach population.

“Progress in the MDGs has been inequitable: Across the developing world, children in the poorest quintiles are still twice as likely to die before the age of five as those in the wealthiest quintile, and nearly three times as likely to be underweight. Poorer children also achieve less in school at all stages of education.”

“In Zimbabwe, no child from the poorest wealth quintile reaches higher education, this is fundamentally unfair, as their chances of getting meaningful employment are compromised. To ensure that the poorest children are seen and fully considered in the development agenda, not only poverty data, but also indicators on other goals must be further disaggregated by poverty and wealth status,” said Dr. Muita.

The World Bank Country Manager to Zimbabwe, Ms. Camille Nuamah said the Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas is important in measuring poverty and will go a long way in assisting developing countries such as Zimbabwe to design policies that target the marginalized and address the various imbalances especially among the poor.

The Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas was produced using the 2011/12 Poverty, Income, Consumption and Expenditure Survey (PICES) data and the 2012 National Population Census data. The availability of Population Census data gave Zimbabwe the first possibility to project ward level poverty estimates. Using a new methodology recently developed by the World Bank that can project survey or sample results on a census using the small area estimation technique made it possible for the first time in Zimbabwe to answer the question: “in which wards are the poorest households”?

 

 
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