Goats, school fees, tin roof and food for the table. These are the things that the 89-year-old Maria Mwemba has been able to purchase after she became entitled to Zambian basic social security. Her family also includes the daughter Petrina, who is mobility impaired, and her three children. Maria has 1,5 hectares of cultivated land. Because of drought, crops have been meagre in recent years but the social security has kept the family from starving during lean times. Petrina has managed to buy a sewing machine with her savings, allowing her to earn extra income by doing sewing work for residents of the village.
In 2015 around 41 per cent of all Zambians still live in extreme poverty even though the country has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years. Zambians have gradually become aware of the growing inequality and four years ago, the country started improving its basic social security system. In 2017 about 540 000 families received income transfers. The children of the families entitled to basic social security are healthier than before and less likely to be absent from school. According to the information collected from villages in 2014 and 2015, productivity in the agricultural sector has improved and residents have acquired more cattle. Finland has supported the building of social security in Zambia.
Photo: Suvi Valkonen, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta