Issues - Zambia

on Thursday, 19 September 2013. Posted in HIV/AIDs & other diseases, Extreme Poverty, Homelessness, Orphans, Zambia


According to preliminary information released to the Southern African Development Community by the National Vulnerability Assessment Committee, Zambia's 2006 agricultural season was generally good with widespread rainfall, despite the late onset of rains in parts of the north and east. In some low-lying areas, excessive rains have limited crop production. Nonetheless, cereal production and carryover stock broke even with the country’s consumption needs of about 1.6 million metric tonne. Heavy rains, did however, cause soil erosion and degradation as well as damage to bridges and roads, all of which has prevented people from accessing markets to purchase seeds and fertiliser. Nutrition is expected to deteriorate in the next few months due to the desperate selling of agricultural produce and poor water and sanitation, which is likely to exacerbate the nutritional status of vulnerable people. Zambia is one of the world's poorest countries. Poverty and food insecurity are widespread in both rural and urban areas, and the country remains extremely vulnerable to recurring natural disasters, including floods, drought and animal disease. Food production levels vary widely from year to year. Food security is fragile because subsistence farmers depend on yearly rainfall and traditional hoe cultivation, and even in years of national food surplus, many subsistence farmers or households often struggle. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity levels and contributed to a decline in socioeconomic activity. Quite simply those who would have previously farmed their land and provided for their families are now either dead or dying. The World Food Program (WFP) plans to provide food aid to about 555,000 people in Zambia from July through to December 2006 under their Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation. Distributions will target HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and Mother-and-Child health clinics; Programs for orphans and other vulnerable children; and Food-for-Assets and Food-for-Training projects. WFP will need about 30,000 metric tonnes of grain to meet these needs. In addition, WFP school-feeding activities will provide daily hot meals to over 185,500 vulnerable schoolchildren. WFP is also providing food aid to 69,000 refugees from Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo who live in camps and remote settlements in Zambia, and rely totally on WFP for their basic food needs. (1)

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The Unemployment Rate in Zambia was estimated to be 50% of the population by the CIA World Fact book in 2000, which by the current population count, would put this figure to be at 5.7 million people. People on the ground in Zambia would estimate the unemployment percentage to be much closer to 80% now or 9.2 million people. To bring these figures to life for the reader, this would be equal to just under half of the total Australian population having no means of income. With these figures in mind it is easy to believe that 86% of the Zambian population live below the poverty line. Zambia's continuing high maternal mortality ratio indicates the failure of the health sector to meet the needs of pregnant women including support for maternal and neonatal health. A high proportion of maternal deaths after delivery occur in the home where the pregnant women are assisted by relatives during labour. The increase in the maternal mortality ratio in Zambia also reflects the gradual deterioration of the social and economic situation in the country compounded by poverty, high levels of HIV/AIDS and inadequate reproductive health services. While infection control and technical guidelines are available in health facilities to enable health workers to carry out procedures during routine and emergency clinical procedures or to provide management of maternal and neonatal conditions, district funds are inadequate for the procurement of drugs, supplies and equipment necessary to support the implementation of the recommended procedures and guidelines. UNICEF Australia and AusAID are supporting improvements in reproductive health through the provision of medical supplies; consumables and midwifery kits; research and improved access to safe motherhood services including antenatal, postnatal and emergency obstetric care. The project also aims to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and STDs through improved screening and treatment of mothers. (1)

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Typhoid Fever, Malaria, Plague, Hepatitis A, Bacterial Diarrhoea and Schistosomiasis, a parasitic blood infection, are some of the many diseases affecting the people of Zambia. By far the main disease of concern in this area, however, is the HIV/AIDS virus. The UNAIDS website states that as of December 2006 the figures for HIV/AIDS infected people in the Sub-Saharan Region of Africa are now estimated to be 15.5 million people, this figure represents two-thirds of the total global population of HIV/AIDS infected people. 15.5 million People equates to ¾'s of the total Australian population or ALL of the residents of the states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria combined. (2) It is estimated that 2.1 million AIDS deaths occur in this region each year, while an estimated 2.8 million become infected annually. Females bare a disproportionate part of the AIDS burden, they are more likely to be infected and/or caring for the infected. Just under one quarter of the estimated 4.6 million people in need of Anti-retroviral therapy receive it in this region. (3)

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Natural Disasters

Each year between the months of November to April Zambia experiences tropical storms, these storms can vary in degrees of ferocity and their ability to wipe out crops with winds or flooding. On the other end of the scale Zambia also suffers from periodic drought which usually results in poor crop recovery. “Air pollution and resulting acid rain in the mineral extraction and refining region…” affects the lives and livelihoods of the population as well as the extensive soil erosion and deforestation from the mining industry. The severe lack of adequate water treatment presents health risks to the population. (1)

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Child Exploitation & Discrimination

They are either being trafficked, working as child soldiers, or undergoing harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation or child marriage. Others are forced into child, or are sexually exploited in the multi-billion dollar commercial sex trade. These are some of the many forms of violence, exploitation and abuse that happen to children around the world every day, and are a direct violation of their basic rights. (1)

In 2003, the UN estimated that 1.2 million children are trafficked annually around the world. Their most recent global estimate dates from 1995 and concluded that one million children, mainly girls but also a significant number of boys, enter the commercial sex trade every year. It is therefore likely that in the last decade, this figure has substantially increased. There are many reasons for the dramatic increase in the trafficking of women and children such as globalisation, domestic servitude, cheap labour, marriage, adoption, prostitution, child pornography including the more recent practice of live internet child abuse, and child sex tourism. Weak law enforcement and lack of community awareness as well as the lure of easy money have helped to make this industry boom. (2)

Some Fast Facts of note are:

    An estimated 171 million children worldwide are working in hazardous situations or conditions, including work with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture, with dangerous machinery or in mines.
    Approximately 1.8 million children, most of them girls, are sexually exploited in the multi-billion-dollar commercial sex trade each year.
    At any given time, over 250,000 children are recruited or used in armed conflict.
    More than 1 million children are detained worldwide, the vast majority of whom have committed petty crimes or minor offences.
    Around 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide every year.
    Over 80 million girls in the developing world will be married before the age of 18, despite laws against child marriage in many countries.

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