Plus Ça Change: Rural Development Policy and the Persistence of Rural Poverty in Zambia

(di Erin Hern) (abstract)

Zambia Farmer imput programme

Zambian rural development policy has undergone dramatic changes since the return of multiparty democracy in 1991. However, despite a series of policy changes, the government’s current approach to rural development mirrors many of the policies of the past. Unfortunately, the struggles that the current program faces replicate the struggles that have mired rural development in Zambia since Independence. This article uses original survey data collected across three Zambian provinces regarding citizens’ assessments of and experiences with the Farmer Input Support Program, the cornerstone of current rural development policy. It contextualizes these firsthand reports with national-level assessments of the programs performance, and in terms of the historical performance of Zambian rural development policy. Relying on contemporary survey data, archival data, and secondary accounts, this study demonstrates that rural development policy in Zambia continues to exhibit the same pathologies as in the 1960s, explaining the persistence of high rural poverty rates.

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