Global Threats, Global Futures
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Global Threats, Global Futures

Living with Declining Living Standards

Thayer Scudder

Global threats can be expected to cause a global environmental crisis and declining living standards for most people. Threats analyzed include poverty, cultural, economic, political and religious fundamentalism, consumption, population increase and degradation of the global ecosystem. Chapters on the United States, China and Zambia illustrate difficulties that high, middle and low income countries face in addressing such threats. The final chapter examines the type of transformational change required just to reduce the rate and magnitude of future decline.
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Chapter 6: Zambia

Thayer Scudder


INTRODUCTION In April 2007, 16 donors wrote in the country analysis of their Joint Assistance Strategy for Zambia (JASZ) 2007–2010 that ‘from being a middle income country at independence in 1964, . . . the country is at present among the poorest in the world.’1 Zambian business consultant Silane Mwenechanya states that in 2005, 78 per cent of Zambia’s employed population worked, ‘without any legal protection,’ in the informal sector of the economy. The earnings of most were insufficient to afford a ‘Basic Needs Basket’ of essential foods, shelter, energy, water and other essentials.2 This chapter explains the reasons for this decline and the constraints that must be overcome before Zambia, as in its Vision 2030 and Fifth National Development Plan (2006–2010), can once again achieve middle-income status. Some of the issues examined can be generalized to other African countries.3 Dealing with constraints to development will be very difficult. Zambia is a complex and highly diverse country. Donors and government officials, while emphasizing the importance of capacity building, continue to underestimate and neglect the development potential and characteristics of Zambia’s citizens. Those citizens have shown the ability to innovate and improve their livelihood, as in China and the United States, when opportunities are available. They have also shown patience under difficult political conditions; Zambia which became independent in 1964, is one of the few African countries which have avoided ethnic violence and civil war prior to and since independence. Avoiding such conflicts is a major accomplishment in a country with...

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