The Center for Trade Policy and Development has called on Government to seriously rethink its definition of key economic sectors.
The CTPD is of the view that whilst calls to re-open certain sectors amidst COVID19 are welcome, there was a need to clearly define what constitutes key economic activities and differentiate those that are social in nature.
CTPD Senior Researcher Dr. Simon Manda says key economic sectors are those that contribute immensely to the country’s GDP, job creation, domestic resource mobilization and help to reduce poverty and inequality.
Dr Manda said the sectors which were recently announced by the President fall short of that definition.
“When we talk about economic sectors, we have in mind sectors such as agricultural food production, mining and local manufacturing”, he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Manda has also called on the Government to consider the vulnerable, poor and equally food insecure urbanites as it comes up with interventions aimed at protecting the affected populations from COVID-19.
He has observed with concern that the scaling down of economic activities and restrictions on social movements could create a new stream of urban poor as they face financial constraints due to reductions in or loss of jobs in the wake of COVID-19.
Dr Manda also advised Government to identify needy urban households especially in high density areas and consider introducing support such as through food banks.
“Such food Centers can act as fall back strategies for struggling urbanites,’’ He noted. Dr Manda and disclosed that for Lusaka alone food banks could play a pivotal role in closing gaps in food access to the majority of who do not have reliable access to food and that this raises the need for not only government support but also food charities and ordinary individuals.
Dr Manda added that recent records show that close to 1 million people (between 23 – 30%) are characterized as poor, the majority of whom live in high-density areas.
“These face unique livelihood challenges due to their close connections to markets on the one hand and generating incomes from informal opportunities. These dynamics make food access through markets and most importantly capacity to switch food preferences difficult’’, He added.
Dr. Manda stressed that this can help address not only food insecurity but also food waste by distributing food which otherwise would have lost.
He further added that food banks can play a vital role in supporting and sustaining vibrant local food systems and can leverage their purchasing volumes to support urban food security and regional economies.
Dr Manda has however urged government to consider working with different charities, churches and other key actors to find actual modalities and pathways for delivering food to needy households.