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Political representation

Most narrators seem disillusioned with the government and feel that political commitment and support has gone steadily downhill since the days of President Kaunda.

Many say that their community’s needs and problems are ignored by those in power. Those who should inform and put pressure on their MPs, such as the village headman,”don’t do their job properly” either, according to Benson.

Gilbert traces the deterioration in state services and links it to agricultural decline.

Benson and Utrina say that politicians only care about the electorate when their votes count; then representatives “leave for good”. And Warren argues that representation is meaningless if those in power “don’t listen”.


Political representation 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