Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said yesterday the Government is developing a two-year poverty reduction strategy whose focus has been limited to a few sectors due to lack of funds. Stakeholder consultations for the strategy paper that will be implemented in 2017 and 2018 are currently at the final stage with a draft document having already been produced.“The Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (IPRSP) will focus on practical well targeted measures that can be implemented in the short to medium term, with long lasting impacts that guarantee improvement in the welfare of the citizenry,” Minister Chinamasa told stakeholders.
“We have limited resources, therefore, we have to prioritise programmes and projects that have high impact on poverty reduction and are achievable while the remainder of the projects will be carried forward into the full poverty reduction strategy.
In the draft paper, agriculture has been singled as key to dealing with poverty challenges the country is battling with, which in the past season were exacerbated by an El Nino induced drought.
National co-ordinator of the IPSRP, Dr Jesimen Chipika said consultations in all the country’s provinces had revealed that poverty levels were high across the country, with most families experiencing food shortages.
“The under performance of agriculture underpins the levels of poverty in the country,” she said.
“People are saying if we can solve agriculture, we would have solved the poverty problem in the country.”
Dr Chipika said issues around irrigation development
and developing a culture of paying for water were also integral
in boosting agriculture production.
Besides agriculture, the IPSRP, is also focusing on education, health, women and youth development as well as mining and manufacturing.
Dr Chipika said consultations had revealed a hunger for information and support across the country in activities that can uplift the lives of people as well as some form of Government support to kick start developmental programmes.
Meanwhile Chinamasa said after the consultations the
poverty reduction strategy would be presented to cabinet for approval before it can be implemented.
“Turning around agriculture will have a transformative effect on the rest of the economy, certainly that is where livelihoods are made as 75 percent of the population depends on agriculture,” he said. — New Ziana.