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L. Sichawle: Address to World Summit 2017

Address to World Summit 2017, Seoul, Korea, February 1 to 5, 2017


Discussion Paper on Fighting Poverty


Our world is faced with numerous adversities undermining the peace and security that families need for their development. Acts of terrorism, rampant human trafficking, displacement of people occasioned by political strife, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and unprecedented levels of poverty, among other factors, threaten to tear apart the family in ways never seen before.

Without downplaying the seriousness of the impact of all these and other adversities on the development of the family, I have singled out poverty for my discussion. In particular, I will discuss my country’s fight against poverty, using agriculture as the entry point and with special focus on youth empowerment and farmer input support. I will also discuss how social cash transfers to vulnerable families are mitigating the scourge of poverty. Lastly I will discuss my country’s record of success in ensuring sustainable peace since gaining independence in 1964.

Fighting poverty

It is a notorious fact, sadly, that Africa shares a big chunk of the world’s poverty. My country is not exempt. The evidence of poverty among our people is obvious: low income and consumption, feelings of powerlessness, vulnerability and fear, humiliation and lack of self-esteem, and living on the margin of subsistence. In Zambia, especially, poverty leads to early childhood marriages, which particularly impact females.

Low income and consumption mean diminished prospects for attaining optimal health or a “good life.” Feelings of powerlessness, humiliation, fear and low self-esteem mean our people cannot confidently influence national policy or international opinion. This state of vulnerability may force people to seek a “good life” elsewhere and in the process be exposed to human trafficking and other dangers confronting migrants. Early child marriages mean perpetuating the cycle of poverty. In other cases, poverty motivates some to obtain material things using violence. Failure to take decisive steps to address poverty is a recipe for perpetuating the status quo.

Youth empowerment

With a population in excess of fifteen million people, Zambia’s population is predominantly young. Addressing child poverty by motivating the youth to exploit a readily available natural asset, land, may lessen the burden of poverty now and for future generations.

In partnership with the traditional leaders, our government has set aside in excess of thirty thousand hectares of arable land for a multi-facility agricultural zone that has been partitioned and will be given to the youth to carry out varied agricultural enterprises. The zone is graced by two anchor participants, one of which is the country’s National Service, a quasi-military unit with vast experience in agricultural production. With initial public funding, the youth will engage in poultry farming, fish farming, livestock rearing, high-value crop production, and other businesses that go hand in hand with agricultural production. In addition, the government will help the youth access markets for their products. It is envisaged that the good practices and experiences gained from this pilot program will be used to open up similar zones in other parts of the country.

Ending child marriage

Child marriage is one of the challenges affecting many families and perpetuating intergenerational poverty in my country. To arrest the situation, a national campaign on ending child marriage has been set in motion. Two hundred and eighty-eight traditional leaders have been mobilized to augment government efforts to end child marriage. By the end of 2015, over one thousand child marriages were dissolved and affected girls re-integrated in schools to continue their education.

Farmer input support program

We are also convinced that for a country endowed with large expanses of arable land and holding more than forty percent of the water bodies in the sub-region of southern Africa, agriculture promises to be a feasible vehicle for fighting poverty among our people.To that end, we support our rural households with farming (subsidy) inputs. So far, one million small-scale farmers are benefiting from this program. This not only is helping to spur agricultural production and thus ensure food security but also is increasing family income that is essential for reducing poverty. We are not there yet, but once we start seeing an increase in the number of people becoming independent thanks to this program, we will know that our efforts are bearing fruit.

Social cash transfers

Since 2003, we have been implementing the social cash transfer aimed at reducing extreme poverty and its intergenerational transfer of property to qualified households in the community. So far, more than 242,000 households, translating into 1.4 million individuals, are benefiting from government cash transfers. In so doing, we have seen an increase in primary school attendance of children in vulnerable households and an increase in the number of households having more than one meal a day. In addition, we have seen an increase in the number of households owning assets, such as livestock, which can be converted into cash. We also have seen families previously mired in extreme poverty beam with confidence because they are now able to look to the future with renewed hope of a sustained income. It has been widely acknowledged that the social cash transfer program is a success.

National peace and security

For the past fifty-three years, peace and tranquility have been the bedrock of Zambia’s existence. Political independence was carefully negotiated. The transfer of power from the colonial administration was bloodless. Even subsequent transfers of power from one administration to another under a multi-party and democratic system of government have been without incident. This is possible because Zambians are committed to embracing democratic, spiritual and moral values that are key to ensuring peace.The core values forming Zambia’s peaceful existence include religious tolerance whereby different faiths are allowed by our country’s constitution to be freely expressed. As a result, various groups of people practice their beliefs alongside other religions without any religion claiming superiority or dominance over the other. In a nutshell, Zambia’s peace is premised on multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural principles. This way of life, which is enshrined in our constitution, has contributed to the peaceful coexistence at the family, community and national levels.


The fight against poverty is not an easy one, but with resolve, more families may be loosed from its scourge. My appeal to parliamentarians across the globe is to support programs that aim to fight poverty. I am of the opinion that raising family incomes will help in mitigating the vices that are associated with poverty. 


Hon. Lawrence John Sichawle, Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, Zambia

Hon. Sichawle serves as the Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs of Zambia. He previously served as Deputy Minister in the Office of the Vice President. He is a lawyer and active in Human Rights and local governance in Lusaka, the capital and largest city of Zambia. 

To go to the 2017 World Summit Conference Schedule, click here.