Social Policy & Research
Despite Zambia’s robust economic growth and increases in average incomes in recent years, household poverty, and in particular child poverty, has remained persistently high.
More than half of the population of Zambia lives in poverty, with 40 per cent in extreme poverty, unable to meet their daily basic subsistence needs. Despite evidence of the high cost-efficiency of improving livelihoods for children and narrowing the poverty gap of poor families, the coverage of social services for households in extreme poverty remains low.
Vulnerable children, families and communities often find it challenging to access services and participate in decision-making processes affecting social sector service delivery.
- 59 per cent of children under the age of 18 live in poverty.
- 45.4 per cent of children under the age of 18 live in extreme poverty.
- 54.4 per cent of the population live in poverty (LCMS 2015).
- 40.9 per cent of children are multi-dimensionally poor (deprived in three or more of the six deprivations essential for child well-being).
- 21.3 per cent of the rural population with no education live in poverty.
- 8.3 per cent of the urban population with no education live in poverty.
- Poverty data indicate higher levels of poverty for households that are female headed at 56.7 per cent compared to those headed by their male counterparts at 53.8 per cent (LCMS 2015).
In response to the prevailing high levels of deprivation and inequality among children, UNICEF Zambia supports the Government of Zambia through the National Social Protection Policy by contributing to the strengthening and expansion of social protection coverage to the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of the population. The UNICEF social policy response focuses on child-sensitive social protection and social protection linkages, public finance for children (including national development planning), implementation and monitoring, social accountability, as well as data and evidence generation.
UNICEF has developed a strategic partnership with the Ministry of National Development Planning and contributed to the development of the Seventh National Development Plan (2017-2021). The Plan helps develop and enhance work around demand for evaluations and public finance management, social accountability and public services for children, as well as the development and use of multidimensional child poverty measurements.
UNICEF also prioritizes the production, dissemination and use of data and evidence to inform programming and advocacy priorities. This is done in collaboration with the Zambia Statistics Agency (ZamStats) and research partnerships with universities, and national and international think tanks.
UNICEF’s social policy programme aims to substantially reduce the proportion of children living in poverty, increase the number of children and households living in extreme poverty who have access to social cash transfers, and improve trends in government expenditure for social sectors by:
- Supporting the development and sustainability of robust and integrated social protection systems to facilitate efficient, accountable and transparent delivery of social assistance benefits.
- Increasing the number of households and the number of children living in extreme poverty who receive social transfers.
- Increasing the capacity of the social protection system to respond to shocks (emergencies) through vertical and horizontal expansions.
- Generating evidence and supporting national data systems to provide routine data on the situation of children and on lessons learnt from programme implementation.
- Advocating for the increase in social sector spending in the annual state budget, and promoting early and timely releases from the national treasury to the social sectors.
- Supporting the coordination of child-focused planning and implementation with the national development policy frameworks, strategies and legislation.
UNICEF Zambia Country Programme 2016-2021
Zambia Social Sector Budget Briefs (2018)
Analytical Brief on the Social Sector Budget (2020)
Political Economy and Fiscal Space Analysis in Zambia (2016)
Policy Brief on Zambia's Cash Transfers (2016)
Longitudinal Study on Zambia's Social Cash Transfer programme (2014)