Jesuit Scholars in Zambia Urge State “to seriously consider preferential option for poor”

JCTR Executive Director, Fr. Alex Muyebe. Credit: JCTR

Jesuit scholars in Zambia are calling upon the government of the Southern African nation “to seriously consider” adopting the “preferential option for the poor”, one of the principles of the Catholic social teaching in which the well-being of the vulnerable in society is prioritized.

In their Thursday, April 7 Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket (BNNB) statement outlining the cost of living for March 2022, officials of the Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection (JCTR) say they are concerned that the consistent rise in the cost of living will inevitably hit hard on the majority of the Zambian people given high poverty levels pegged at over 54 percent amid very low incomes. 

“The need to seriously consider the preferential option for the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized in policy formulation and implementation is evident,” officials of the Zambia-based Centre that is engaged in research, advocacy, education and consultancy on social issues say. 

They say the principle is necessary because of the “impact of the high cost of living on vulnerable and marginalized groups like women, the aged, people with disabilities, children, the unemployed and the poor, certain moral imperatives become clear for the Government and other stakeholders.” 

“The Government in particular must be in solidarity with these vulnerable groups and develop pro-poor policies, which will enable the progressive realization and accessibility of rights like education, health care, nutrition, water, and a healthy environment,” the Jesuit scholars say.


The March 2022 BNNB recorded an increase in the cost of living, officials Jesuit entity whose work is “to enhance justice and equality for all, particularly the poor and vulnerable through the promotion of Christian values, empowerment, care for the environment and provision of policy alternatives” say.

The increased cost of living, they say, has been occasioned by heightened food prices as the country is currently in the lean season and the increment in the fuel pump price recorded between December 2021 and March 2022. 

The Jesuit scholars further note that the increased price of cooking oil has affected the cost of living in the Southern African nation.

In their statement, JCTR officials also call upon Zambians with better means to stand with the poor and vulnerable persons.

The standing with the needy in society “can be done by providing as much support (charity as well as empowerment) to enable the vulnerable household to cope with the cost of living,” they say.

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The government needs “to sustain enhancement of irrigation support (for various crops) as a critical step to addressing the seasonality challenge that compromises food security due to dependence on rain fed agriculture.”

“We continue to urge government through the ERB to revert to 90-day pump price review cycles as opposed to 30-day review cycles to aid in stabilizing the pump price of fuel,” JCTR officials says.

They add, “We do commend the government for postponing the planned increase in electricity tariffs that was set for March 2022. We therefore, recommend that the increase in electricity tariffs remain postponed as a cushioning measure. Zambians are already facing significant challenges given the rising cost of living. Increasing electricity tariffs now would further negatively impact on the cost of living.”

“Lastly, we call on the government to consider temporary suspension of import duty on edible crude oils to cushion cooking oil production and contribute to lower cooking oil prices,” officials of the Lusaka-based Jesuit Centre say in their April 7 statement.

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.