Daily life in the high density areas of Lusaka; select stories and policy recommendations
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The Social Conditions Programme of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has for long while been conducted as a monthly survey of the cost of essential food and non-food items for an average family of six living in Lusaka and other Zambia towns. Known as the Basic Needs Basket, the purpose of this activity is to survey and analyse cost of living in order to understand the challenges faced by the people to meet basic needs and to advocate for social, economic and political changes to improve human living conditions. That poverty has many dimensions and this implies that the understanding and application of the Basic Needs Basket needs to go beyond income deprivation. In any case, the Basic Needs Basket reflects and invites consideration of multiplicity of factors in explaining changes in its cost. Income is indeed the primary means to satisfy the basic needs of a family in an urban area, but thee exit a number of unique conditions within each family, community and society that need consideration to fully understand the quality of life of its members. At the national level, such unique conditions include the absence of free secondary and tertiary education and free health care, the prevalence of deadly disease such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, the absence of social protection safety nets and a work climate lacking sufficient formal employment. At the community or local level, they include the number of children and other dependants cared for, the presence of family members with disabilities or chronic illnesses, and the uneven distribution of income between family members 9 for example excessive expenditure on a boy child or an alcoholic parent). Poverty is the inability to achieve a decent quality of life. Accurate assessments of living conditions of the people must look beyond income deprivation to arrive at true development understood as the transition from less human conditions to those which are more human.
CitationKasankha, S., Banda, E., Petrauskis, C., Ndashe, I and Muweme, M. (2007). Social conditions research programme: Daily life in the high density areas of Lusaka; select stories and policy recommendations. Lusaka, Zambia; Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections (JCTR).
JESUIT CENTRE FOR THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION
This booklet presents some of the findings of the interviews, focusing on the stories of five randomly selected families from the several that were and continue to be interviewed each month from high density areas of Lusaka. Building upon these experiences, the booklet concludes with policy recommendations touching on health, energy provision, housing, social protection, education, water and sanitation, etc.
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