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Water and drought

All narrators mention a crippling lack of water. Drought periods are increasing, so crop yields are declining. Collecting water for drinking and domestic use is extremely time-consuming, and the poor quality is a major concern.

Utrina says she can spend “seven hours a day” just collecting water.

Anna has lost two children to ‘vomiting’ and feels unsafe water is at the heart of the increased ill-health in her community. At times, she says, “we have to beg for water from those that have it…”.

Edward tells how the government’s construction of a dam has brought some improvement to local lives.

Warren emphasises how “at risk” his community is to water-borne disease.


Water and drought is a key theme of the Living with poverty: Zambia oral testimony project.


Anna: strong and hardworking

Benson: people need jobs

Dominic: valuing tradition

Edward: anxiety of poverty

Gilbert: cattle is wealth

Grandwell: sustained support

Mirriam: dedicated to others

Ruth: a mother’s struggle

Sara: coping without family

Utrina: working the land

Warren: the HIV burden

Grace: an open approach

Key themes

Introduction to the project


Food security


Water and drought


Survival strategies

Self-help and community support


Loans and debt

Political representation

The cycle of poverty