“Prohibitively high”: Jesuit Scholars in Zambia on Living Costs, Urge “pro-poor policies”

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

Jesuit scholars in Zambia are urging the government of the Southern African nation to make economic policies that target the poor and other vulnerable members of society, in view of getting them out of their inhuman situations.  

In their Monday, October 16 Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket (BNNB) statement outlining the cost of living for September 2023, officials of the Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection (JCTR) decry the “prohibitively high” cost of living, which they say is making the lives of poor and vulnerable Zambians difficult.

“JCTR urges the government to give profound consideration to the preferential option for the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized when crafting and executing policies,” officials of the Lusaka-based center that is engaged in research, advocacy, education, and consultancy on social issues say. 

They emphasize, “It is imperative that the government actively extends its support and solidarity to these vulnerable segments of society and establishes, as well as effectively enforces pro-poor policies.”

JCTR officials say the cost of living in the Southern African nation “remains prohibitively high for the majority of Zambians.”


“This persistent challenge continues to burden the Zambian citizens, particularly the vulnerable and marginalized segments of our population,” they say.

They add that while their September BNNB puts the cost of living for a family at K9000 (US$.422), additional expenses such as airtime and data bundles are not included in the data.

“This implies that the actual cost of living for a family of five in Lusaka may well exceed by far the K9000 threshold,” the Jesuit scholars say, and continue, “Families are often faced with additional financial burdens beyond the essentials, and addressing these broader economic challenges is essential for improving the overall well-being of households.”

The Jesuit scholars call upon Zambia’s government, civil society, and the private sector in the country “to have open and honest conversations, collaborate and develop sustainable strategies that address the root causes of high living costs.”

They say the President Hakainde Hichilema-led government could adopt an approach “that encompasses measures to combat inflation, increase income levels, and enhance the accessibility and affordability of essential goods and services including fuel pump prices that have continued to have a negative effect on the cost of commodities and cost of doing business.”

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The Zambian government, JCTR officials add, needs to “expand and strengthen social safety net programs to support vulnerable populations during times of inflation and economic uncertainty.”

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.