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An Easy Look at Zambia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper 2002-2004

7. The Cross Cutting Issues

Cross Cutting Issues

The PRSP has identified three “cross-cutting issues”. These are HIV/AIDS, the environment and gender. These are called crosscutting because they can’t be taken as isolated issues, because they affect all other sectors. If these issues are not tackled, the successes in other sectors will be very limited. Supporting these activities is essential for poverty reduction.

Cross Cutting Issue 2: Gender

Zambia, as in many countries throughout the world, women are more vulnerable to poverty as well as social and cultural disadvantages. Women get less access to education, employment and economic opportunity, and female-headed households are poorer, with greater levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.

Without uplifting women, Zambia is wasting half its human resources! After all, sustainable economic growth depends on everyone. Future development will require the full participation of both women and men. PRSP will address gender issues as a vital part of national development.

There are five key areas where gender imbalances negatively affect women, and hold back national development. These are as follows:

Women’s Economic Activities

Women’s economic success benefits themselves and their children. Women’s incomes provide food security, and pay for health and education. PRSP will promote women’s economic activities through specially targeted programmes. The programmes will strengthen and expand women’s businesses by ensuring access to credit, training, advice, appropriate technology and marketing support.

Women’s Access to Property

Government will remove any legal barriers to women’s development. In particular, women must have equal rights to land, asset ownership, property rights, inheritance and natural resources. PRSP will promote programmes that enable female-headed households to obtain affordable housing.

Women, Information and Education

Women have less education, less training and lower rates of literacy. This prevents them from developing businesses, caring for families or being fully productive in agricultural activities. PRSP will promote education and training for women at all levels, including formal opportunities and community based programmes. Extension programmes directed at women will increase access to traditional knowledge and new information. These programmes will help women make informed choices for economic, reproductive and domestic empowerment.

Women and Financial Services

Women and the poor have very limited access to financial services. These include credit, and also business advice, banking services and savings schemes. PRSP will increase access to financial services, especially for rural women, and expand markets and business opportunities for the poor. PRSP will particularly support community-based approaches such as credit networks, traditional savings schemes and group activities.

Women and Decision Making

Important decisions are often biased in favour of men. This may be because women are not represented in decision-making, or because information used to help make a decision does not show how men and women might be affected differently. PRSP will promote women’s participation in decision-making, and support improved data gathering and analysis of information for decision-making.

Cross Cutting Issue 1: HIV/AIDS

It is often said that there is no single household in Zambia that has not been affected by HIV/AIDS. It truly feels as if the negative effects of the epidemic have impacted on every aspect of our lives.

HIV/AIDS can affect and infect everyone. But there is special relationship between HIV/AIDS and poverty. Poor people have less education, and may lack vital information and skills to protect themselves from HIV. Uneducated girls are particularly vulnerable. HIV/AIDS mainly affects young adults and parents, so families lose the patient’s income and labour. The epidemic has also produced nearly one million orphaned children. Many will suffer trauma from losing their parents, as well as shifting into new households, and dropping out of school. Others are vulnerable to abuse and or to joining the growing number of street children.

The national economy is affected by HIV/AIDS, where strong growth would need a skilled and healthy workforce. Instead we have many workers who are patients. Even workers who are healthy are troubled by responsibilities for funerals, patients and dependents. In farming, there is less labour for cultivation and weeding in each household as people are sick or need to care for the sick. This means less food and lower incomes. Farming equipment, land and livestock are sold to get cash to reduce immediate problems, which pulls the family further into poverty.

Government services are affected by HIV/AIDS. In schools, 1600 teachers died of HIV/AIDS in 1999 – around one in twenty of all teachers in a single year! That means that newly trained teachers are only just enough to replace experienced teachers, not to expand the total. HIV patients overwhelm the health services, and there are not enough resources to assist them.

Zambians are very well aware of the effects of HIV/AIDS. The problem is that not enough has been done about it. In 2002, Government created the National HIV/AIDS Council to co-ordinate the National Strategy on HIV/AIDS. PRSP is supporting activities identified as part of the National Strategy.

The PRSP has three “first priorities” for HIV/AIDS activities, as follows:

Reduce New HIV/AIDS Infections

The number of HIV/AIDS infections must be reduced. This needs us to change our behaviour, and avoid engaging in risky activities. PRSP will support renewed education programmes for high-risk groups (youth, sex workers, soldiers, traders, truckers, prisoners and refugees). PRSP supports condom programmes that increase awareness and availability throughout the nation.

Reduce Socio-Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS

Knowing that a family member is HIV positive helps reduce the impact of the disease. Further transmission can be prevented, and “positive living” can extend healthy live expectancy. PRSP will support voluntary counselling and testing, which informs people of their HIV status and provides psychological support and vital information to people with HIV. PRSP will support home-based care, and strengthen links between home-based care programmes and health centres. PRSP aims to increase access to home based care activities to 75% of patients. PRSP also supports the Anti-Retroviral treatment programme that is being actively pursued by Government, and will become involved in this programme when it is finalised.

Improve the Quality of Life for Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Community programmes for the care for orphans have developed over the past decade. With a little more funding, many could provide much more care. This will ensure that children are fed and that they attend school, and will also address some of the emotional and psychological trauma of being orphaned. PRSP will support these initiatives through NGOs, community organisations, churches and other community based groups.

PRSP also identifies four “second priority” programmes that provide better health services and reduce the risk of infection for children, youth, women and high-risk group:

Improved Services for Sexually Transmitted Diseases

At present, most patients that come to a health centre with an STD do not get a complete package of treatment and health education, which causes further infection. The PRSP will tackle these problems through drug procurement, training, monitoring and education for traditional healers.

Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission

PRSP will expand programmes that prevent infection of babies to a national scale. This involves training health staff, improving HIV testing facilities, supplying necessary drugs and educating the public.

Prevention of TB

One of the biggest dangers for people with HIV is TB. There are now medicines that can stop people with HIV from getting TB. PRSP will increase the lives of people with HIV by providing these medicines.

Drug Supply

The basic health package includes some important drugs for HIV patients, especially for diarrhoea and TB. PRSP will provide other drugs that are useful to HIV patients but are not in the basic health package.

Cross Cutting Issue 3: Environment

Poverty and environment are closely related. Rural people are often dependent on natural resources for livelihoods. The rural poor cannot invest in their environment, or use natural resources in a sustainable manner. As a result, their incomes are unsustainable, as they fell trees to sell charcoal, fish right through the year, or use agricultural methods that will degrade the soil. When the resources are finished, the future is bleak. Environmental sustainability is essential for agricultural and rural development.

For urban people, a poor environment affects health and family welfare. Poor housing, dirty water, inadequate sanitation facilities, piles of rubbish and air pollution are all common in Zambia’s towns and compounds. This environment promotes disease, which in turn promotes poverty. A cleaner environment is necessary for health and economic development.

Since 1994, Government has had the National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP). This has identified the key problems, and provides a framework for key actions. The NEAP points to the five most critical environmental problems in Zambia as:

  • Water pollution & inadequate sanitation


  • Soil degradation


  • Air pollution (especially on the Copperbelt)


  • Wildlife depletion (fish and game)


  • Deforestation
PRSP Activities for the Environment

Existing programmes are tackling these problems in some places. Zambia has several good programmes that promote environmental programmes at community level. Some of these are listed in the box.

However, in most cases activities are restricted to pilot programmes in limited geographical areas. The PRSP will focus on strengthening on-going activities and expanding successful pilot programmes to full-scale operation.

PRSP will also supplement the National Environmental Action Plan and its activities, by contributing a poverty reduction focus. Existing policies and activities will be reviewed to see if they reduce poverty. This review will help appropriate adjustments to be made, to ensure that they reduce poverty in future.

Zambia’s Good Record in Environmental Programmes

  • Community Based Natural Resource Management – including ADMADE, and SLAMU


  • Sound farming practices for poor rural farmers – including CLUSA, the Conservation Farming Unit and SCAFE


  • Forestry programmes such as the Zambia Forest Action Programme (ZFAP), the Provincial Forest Action Programmes in four provinces, and the revenue collection activities in Chibombo and Masaiti
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