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Loans and debt

Many people say they desperately need to borrow money but lack any sources of financial support. Most want loans to buy farm implements and increase food production.

Several narrators mention the cost and frequency of funerals, reflecting the high rate of HIV, and the need for help with these expenses.

Gilbert, one of the few with a steady if part-time job, says his employer sometimes advances him some of his salary as a form of credit.

Grandwell and Benson say in the past yields were good and they could pay off any debt at harvest (usually loans were in the form of fertiliser). But Edward says now they “live in fear” of loans as they see no means of repaying them.


Loans and debt 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