Impact of structural adjustment programme on household structures in Mufulira,Copperbelt province, Zambia

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Muzyamba, Cecilia Kayiwa
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Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) is an economic model of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) that was adopted by a number of Third World countries as far back as the 1960s' as a way of rectifying the macro-economic imbalances. Zambia's SAP was initiated in 1971 and has been associated with miseries by ilic majority of the urban and rural poor due to the unprecedented rate of social marginalisation. From the SAP scenario, a number of concepts such as 'the new poor', 'the chronic poor', and 'the vulnerable groups' have emanated. IMF and IBRD aid conditions, like the Labour Reform Programme and the removal of subsidies on consumer goods and services, have resulted into increased unemployment and high cost of food stuffs, education and health services to the ever increasing population of Zambia in general and Mufulira in particular. Unemployment, high cost of food stuffs and education have consequently initiated migrations of household members to either join other households or settle in other geographical locations. These have created changes in family sizes, structures, geographical and living space thereby exerting socio-economic pressure on recipient households whose sizes keep increasing. Therefore, this study aimed at investigating, explaining and analysing the impact of SAP on the household structures in Mufulira, Copperbeit Province, Zambia. A sample size of 127 households from four stratified residential areas were taken. The stratification was done according to the samples' socio-economic status of squatter, municipal, mine and high cost (Mufulira Central) townships. Data were analysed by using a desk calculator and computer's Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and Microsoft Excel. Percentages, tables of frequencies, means of descriptive, non-parametric and parametric tests were used lo establish the relationship between household structure on one hand and the cost of living, social services (health and education), and employment on the other. The findings of this study show that regardless of the differences in the socio-economic status of the sample areas, Mufulira's population experiences a high cost and low standard of living. This is because of the high cost of consumer goods and services that has made it difficult for households to manage their welfare as a result of either unemployment or low wages/salaries. However, there have been changes in both the household sizes and structures. The sizes have reduced from the average of 7 3 (1990} to 6.4 (1998). This shows a 12.3% decline. Similarly in 1998, 50.6% of the total households had adopted the nuclear family norm as compared to 35% in 1990. According to the author's view, the 49.4% households that still practice the extended family norm will reduce in due course to the effects of SAP. As Mufulira's population is facing various economic hardships; (a). private entrepreneurship should be encouraged as this would enhance trade competition and consequently reduce prices for commodities; (b). agriculture should be encouraged as this would help improve the households' food security; (c). non and fee paying education and heahh facilities should exist side by side. This would help cater for the under pnviledgcd. However, for the non-fee paying category, beneficiaries and stakeholders should make financial and material contributions for the acquisition of facilities and services that will be provided to them; (d). community based programmes should he encouraged as this would not only improve people's standards of living but also make the population economically more productive than ever before and; (e). further investigations on the effects of HIV/AIDS and Programme for the Advancement of Girls1 Education (PAGE) on household structures should be carried out. It is hoped that the findings of this study will be applied to other urban areas within and outside the country, and indeed provide added information to development planners and other researchers.
: Structural adjustment (Economic policy) -- Zambia