The importance of poverty mapping

23 Dec, 2015 - 00:12 0 Views

The Herald

Dr Desire Mutize Sibanda Correspondent
The collaborative work by Zimstat, the World Bank and UNICEF has yielded positive results shown by the Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas which was launched recently. This work also signifies the improved performance of zimstat since the beginning of the restructuring process of zimstat.

The Poverty Atlas is a useful tool to the Ministry of Macro-economic Planning and Investment Promotion and to the Government as a whole. Our role as ministry is to plan for the nation to grow the economy, raise the standards of living and reduce poverty.

Poverty maps are useful in economic planning and policy formulation which can be done at district and ward levels. The Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas highlights the areas of high poverty prevalence and those of low poverty prevalence.

The key job of a public sector economist is to grow the economy and reduce poverty. Over the past decade, Africa’s economies were growing at around 5 percent.

In the 1980s growth was around 1.7 percent and in the 1990s growth was around 2.5 percent. Although the recent growth was commendable it was not enough to reduce poverty. The World Bank estimated that Africa had to grow consistently at 5 percent just to keep up with its own population demands and over 7 percent to make inroads into poverty.

In fact, economists estimated that the growth rate required to achieve the MDGs was 7 percent. But this growth needed to be inclusive.

Therefore economic planners need to know where to target resources in order to uplift disadvantaged communities.

This is in line with the Government policy of “inclusive growth”, where no one should be left behind.

The Millennium Development Goals 2000-2015 emphasised inclusive growth leading to poverty reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals also emphasised inclusive growth and our ZIMASSET emphasised inclusive growth to reduce poverty. As public sector economists, we need a variety of statistics to see whether our policies are achieving inclusive growth.

I am pleased that Government has brought zimstats under our Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion to directly provide us with statistics on poverty to scientifically determine the achievement of the MDGs, SDGs and the zimasset. It is therefore important that from a policy analysis point of view the data from the Poverty Atlas will be used in partial development analysis which deals with areas which are in need of more developmental assistance such as irrigation facilities, more schools, hospitals and investment infrastructure to uplift the lives of people living in poverty.

This will enable us to adopt policies for inclusive growth, development and poverty reduction. The Poverty Atlas has been disseminated at a time the government is implementing the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (zimasset) programme which has the following cluster composition:

Food Security and Nutrition;

Social Services and Poverty Eradication;

Infrastructure and Utilities; and

Value Addition and Beneficiation.

What is critical is that under Zim-Asset, the Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas will assist policymakers in identifying worse-off areas using highly disaggregated poverty statistics to design tailor-made interventions that can reduce poverty in such areas.

The Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas also provides information for investment planning and resource allocation to reach the poor.

It is important to note that:

a) Detailed poverty data is crucial in monitoring and evaluating progress made by Zimbabwe towards achieving the goals of the Agenda 2030, commonly known as the Sustainable Development Goals.

b) The Atlas can be used to target marginalised areas that are in need of food assistance. This is in line with the “Zero Hunger Challenge” which is an international multi-sectorial call for action made by the United Nations Secretary General in 2012 towards a vision of a world without hunger.

c) Further, the Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas will form part of the important tools for monitoring the implementation of the Zimbabwe Food and Nutrition Policy.

The Zimbabwe Food and Nutrition Security Policy of promoting food and nutrition security in the context of economic growth, shows Government’s commitment to a sustainable programme of addressing the food and nutrition security situation in Zimbabwe.

Poverty maps reveal pockets of severe poverty and deprivation that might otherwise be overlooked and therefore it helps us as economic planners and implementers to best target our efforts to areas of greatest need as we all know resources are scarce and should be used economically, efficiently and effectively. For example, in pursuing the policy of inclusive growth, poverty maps need to be updated to reflect the changing circumstances of households over time.

It is possible that some households may be moving in and out of poverty over time while others remain persistently in deep poverty. It is therefore important that in capturing changing poverty dynamics, we invest in both our knowledge base and in our analytical capacity and thus the investment in the production of this document is a significant milestone.

One of Zimbabwe’s finest economist, the late Minister of Economic Planning and Development Dr Bernard Chidzero emphasised the concept of growth with equity. Having worked as Under Secretary in the United Nations, all his development plans were premised on growth with equity and poverty reduction.

The new SDGs are addressing the issue of inequalities. We in Africa should face the fact that: “African states are not only the poorest per capita but also among the most unequal (as measured by their Gini coefficient: a higher number indicating more unequal distribution of income and wealth). The Government of Zimbabwe recently produced its country position on the implementation of the SDGs and one of the fundamentals of the SDGs is to reduce poverty and address the issues of inequalities in line with zimasset objectives.

In line with implementation of these objectives the Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion has, with the approval of the Public Service Commission, created posts of regional economists to promote regional development, investment in the provinces and districts and ensure the effective implementation of the zimasset and the SDGs in the provinces and districts.

The regional economists will also focus on inclusive growth and poverty reduction in all the regions of Zimbabwe.

They will also assist in attracting investments through incentives and special economic zones in the provinces and districts.

In summary, let me recap the importance of poverty mapping in Zimbabwe:

Poverty mapping is a powerful tool for identifying and monitoring areas of poverty.

The Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas can be further reinforced by combining poverty data with other development indicators such as access to markets, access to education, etc.

To repeat, poverty maps provide a rich information base to help policy makers and development partners to plan resource allocations and national budgetary processes more efficiently, economically and effectively. In public sector economic and finance we call these the 3 Es{Efficiently, economically and effectively). For example, Poverty Atlas figures can be used for Local Government budget allocations to Rural District Councils and Municipalities so as to ensure equitable distribution of resources. This reduces poverty in a systematic manner.

Poverty maps will help in tracking poverty trends at province, district and ward levels in order to strengthen the Government’s ability to monitor and evaluate the impact of its policies. This is one of the key jobs of the newly appointed regional economists. Working with relevant statistical agencies and district and provincial administration, they will ensure effective tracking of poverty trends and provide useful information for economic policy making.

My wish is for Zimbabwe to compare poverty mapping data over time, by constructing new poverty maps after the impending PICES 2016-17 Survey.

The PICES 2016-17 can be used in conjunction with the results of the 2017 Intercensal Demographic Survey to produce another Poverty Atlas.

This will enable us to see how Government policies are effective in reducing poverty incidence in Zimbabwe over time.

Cooperating partners like Unicef, UNDP , World Bank etc. have rendered assistance towards the transformation of ZIMSTATS.

This is one of our very important Government agencies in the economic formulation process.

Dr Desire Mutize Sibanda is the Secretary for Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion. He made the remarks at the launch of the Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas in Bulawayo.

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