Zambia’s Rising Cost of Living “undermines dignity”, Jesuit Scholars Urge Support Programs

Logo of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR). Credit: JCTR

The rising cost of living in Zambia is undermining the dignity of the citizens of the Southern African nation, officials of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) based in the country’s capital, Lusaka, have said.

In their Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket (BNNB) statement outlining the cost of living for January 2024, JCTR officials advocate for the introduction of programs aimed at supporting poor Zambians. 

“The suffering caused by the rising cost of living goes to the core of an individual’s sense of self-worth and questions our commitment as a nation to improving the livelihoods of the poor as spelt out in the 8th National Development Plan,” they say in the statement published Monday, February 12.

The Jesuit scholars say they find it regrettable that some families grapple “with difficult choices, having to decide between putting food on their tables and addressing other urgent necessities” amid rising price of commodities.

“This predicament creates hardship and undermines the dignity of individuals, as they are denied their right to lead fulfilling lives that honor their value and that enable them to thrive,” say officials of the Lusaka-based Jesuit entity.


JCTR officials say that the unpredictable rainfall patterns witnessed in recent months “pose a threat to an already dire situation, which might result in increased food prices.”

In the face of the challenges, JCTR officials call on the Hakainde Hichilema-led government “to recognize the urgency at hand and to begin formulating strategies for providing relief for its citizens, especially the poor, who are already burdened by the high cost of living.”

“The Zambian government should prioritize targeted support programs aimed at alleviating hardships faced by low-income households,” they say, adding that “this can be achieved through meaningful and robust social safety nets that ensure access to necessities, for every individual.”

To prevent the exploitation of Zambians through frequent commodity price adjustments, JCTR officials say the government ought to enforce price control measures. 

“By monitoring and regulating prices of goods, we can protect consumers and safeguard their well-being,” they say, and urge the country’s Energy Regulation Board to work towards “establishing long-term policy stability in the energy sector.”

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“Frequent reviews of fuel pump prices, for instance, can contribute to uncertainty. It cannot be overemphasized that the creation of a more predictable regulatory environment can promote stability and attract investment,” JCTR officials say.

They also urge the government to prioritize the implementation of policies and strategies for managing the Zambian Kwacha, the country’s currency.

“By efficiently managing pressures and stabilizing the value of the Kwacha against convertible currencies we can create an environment that supports sustainable development while also protecting the dignity of individuals,” the Jesuit scholars say.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.