The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) says the massive load shedding across the country will adversely affect livelihoods.
And the latest JCTR’s Basic Needs Basket (BNB) is a communication and advocacy tool that calculates the average monthly cost of basic food and essential non-food items shows that a bag of mealli meal in Nchinsali is going for K80.
JCTR says, in the past few weeks, heavy load shedding has become the norm throughout the country.
The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) said in a statement that it ‘is concerned by the heavy load shedding mainly because it will negatively affect people’s ability to live a dignified life.
‘Considering the existing socio-economic conditions and levels of poverty prevailing in our country, the impacts of load shedding will be felt more by the poor majority.’
JCTR Livingstone outreach regional officer Mr. Makaha, observed that the effect of loading shedding on the economy will account for the increase in the cost of production in businesses. Therefore, there is potential risk of the cost being transferred to consumers through the increase in prices on both basic food items and essential non food items. This is detrimental to development, as basic food items are fundamental to food security. Another consequence of load shedding is that more trees will be cut down for charcoal, leading to soil degradation and degradation of the environment as a whole. Charcoal which is an alternative source of energy for local communities, will eventually rise in price with increase in demand. The rise in the cost of charcoal is also reflected in the June Basic Needs Basket.
For Kasama, the June 2015 Basic Needs Basket (BNB) stood at K2, 493.87.
This shows an increase of K80.29 as compared to the BNB for the month of May 2015 which stood at K2, 413.58, said the JCTR in a statement.
The increase in the cost of living vis-à-vis the BNB can be attributed to increases in the cost of food items such as Kapenta which increased by K16.82 from an average unit cost of K93.70 to K110.52 per Kg, Dry fish which increased by K9.40 from K61.00 to K70.40 per Kg and Beans which increased by K2.80 from K10.50 to K13.30 per Kg.
‘It was also noted that out of the five (5) markets in Kasama where JCTR undertakes the BNB survey from, three (3) markets have raised the price of a 90kg bag of Charcoal from K54.00 to K63.00. The reason for this increase is the increased demand for the commodity which is also a concern for JCTR as it raises the cost of living,’ the JCTR said.
For Lusaka, the JCTR said the cost of living for the month of June 2015 for an average family of five living in Lusaka has been calculated at K3, 704.69.
JCTR said the cost of living for May 2015 was calculated at K3, 677.28. Therefore, as compared to the month of May, there has been an increase of K27.41 in the BNB. The total cost of food items for the June BNB is K977.20 while that of May was K983.56, revealing a decrease of K6.36. The total cost of essential non-food items were calculated at K2, 693.72 and K2, 727.49 for May and June respectively. This shows an increase by K33.77. The rise in the cost of essential non- food items has been caused by an upward surge in the average unit cost of a 90Kg bag of Charcoal by K21.43.
JCTR also discovered that in Northern Province, even cowpeas, beans and groundnuts will be in short supply this year.
In northern province, said JCTR in a statement, ‘the harvesting period is the best time of the year, as most households are able to save some of their money because they resort to eating various farm produce; such as groundnuts, beans, sweet potatoes, cowpeas and grounded maize.
‘These commodities act as substitutes of cooking oil and bread and replaces the burden of having to buy mealie meal, explained JCTR.
However, ‘this may not be the case this year, as produce is not in abundance like last year,’ JCTR said.
JCTR explained that there are two main factors that can be attributed to the scarcity of farm produce. ‘Poor rainfall pattern affecting yield and late receipt of remuneration from FRA by some farmers for last year’s produce affecting their preparation for the 2014/15 agricultural season.
‘This has also made farmers sell their produce to government this year. Some famers though, are still holding on to their maize, as they anticipate the new floor price of maize as done each year’
JCTR explained that private buyers have however taken advantage of the prevailing situation and have increased their purchase of maize, ‘so that by the time the government announces the new floor price, they would have collected enough stocks of maize already by purchasing a 50kg bag of maize at K60.00 at the farm, but if the farmer brings the maize to a milling plant, it is sold at K65.00.’