Child Poverty in Zambia report (2018)

A multiple overlapping deprivation analysis

A mother carrying her child in rural Zambia


The main purpose of this study is to measure and analyze national child poverty in Zambia using a multidimensional deprivations approach. Using the Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA) methodology, the analysis identifies who are the most vulnerable children and their characteristics, studies the overlap between different forms of poverty (i.e. monetary and deprivation) and between the various dimensions of deprivation. Exploring the multiple deprivations simultaneously and their relationship allows to capture the multi-faceted and interrelated aspect of child's experience of deprivations.

MODA analysis for children age 0-17 years in Zambia shows that child deprivation is high and severe: 41% of children suffer from at least three deprivations at a time, experiencing four deprivations on average.

Differences in deprivation rates across areas of residence are significant. While 60% of children living in rural areas are deprived in three or more simultaneous dimensions, this magnitude represents only a 10% in urban areas. The monetary poverty rate is even higher among children, with a 60% identified as poor considering the national poverty line. In line with results on deprivation, poverty is significantly higher and deeper in rural areas with poverty rates of 80.5% compared with a 25% in urban areas. Overall, a significant share of Zambian children is either poor or deprived (64%) and most of the deprived children are also poor, even if there is a significant share of Zambian children that is monetary poor only.

In a sector-by-sector type of analysis, sanitation represents a big issue for children in Zambia (more than 60% of deprivation) mainly driven by the lack of an improved toilet facility in the household. For children age 0 to 4 years, deprivation in Nutrition dimension is also very high (61.7%). Explaining the incidence of deprivation in this dimension, inappropriate breastfeeding and infant feeding frequency are key determinants since only 40% of children in this age group access to a minimum feeding practice.

For school-age children, the deprivation level in Education is high. Primary school attendance is high, Secondary school attainment for children age 14-17 years is low (43% deprived). Grade for age deprivation level increases across age groups, from 31.3% of children age 7-13 years below two years the grade corresponding to the age to more than half of children 14-17 years deprived. Independently of the dimension of well-being analyzed and the age group, rural areas have significantly higher deprivation headcount rates. 

A multidimensional analysis of deprivations in Zambia shows that younger children tend to be deprived in more dimensions simultaneously than older ones: 54% (0-4 years) vs 36% (5-13 years) and 40% (14-17 years). Even the likelihood of being multidimensional deprived in Zambia is higher for younger children, the intensity of deprivation is quite similar among the children deprived.
Understanding child poverty and child deprivation is important to be able to analyze the situation of children in a society. The evidence provides support to the prioritization of children's needs in the 7th National Development Plan (2017-2021). This analysis contributes to inform policies and interventions to enhance children's sustainable development and well-being by providing concrete and relevant evidence.

Zambia child poverty report front cover
Commissioned by the Ministry of National Development Planning
Publication date

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