As the TST began examining where to situate the first cluster in a developing world country, their attention was drawn to Zambia both because of the level of poverty in that country, but also because there was a sizeable population of Brothers who could potentially become part of the first cluster.
Zambia’s population is about fourteen million people. Of these 51% (7,140,000) are females while 6,860,000 are males. The females (women) are in majority and most of the population is youthful.
Though statistically the proportion of population living in extreme poverty in percentage terms has been reducing from 58% in 2000 to 51% in 2010 and the gap ratio between incidences of poverty and depth of poverty has been reducing in both rural and urban areas (Zambia Millennium development goals progress report 2012), people still continue experiencing hardships and reduced access to means of livelihood. This is due to several reasons among them inefficient available resources in the agriculture sector hindering rural economic infrastructure and development of other rural programs; historical expenditure bias patterns in favour of the urban areas and inadequate essential vocational skills which constrain productive engagement and deployment of people in wage employment and self-employment. The TST saw, therefore, that Zambia was a country that would potentially benefit from an increased presence of the Christian Brothers.
Why Western Province?
At an assembly of the Christian Brothers in 2014, the question of where to situate the first cluster was raised, and various locations were suggested. A sizeable number of Brothers suggested Western Province, and the TST reflected on this view, did some research in collaboration with the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection, and hired an independent researcher to study the economic and social situation there.
Western Province has a total population of 903,074, with a total number of households being 180, 179. The population annual growth rate for the province is 2.3%. The levels of extreme poverty have continued to remain high especially in the predominantly rural districts. Unlike other regions, results show a sharp increase in extreme poverty in Western Province between 2006 and 2010 from 64.9% to 73.3%, while the average poverty levels are at 83.3% ranking it as the poorest province in the country. However results show that there was a slight decline in urban poverty in the same province between 2006 and 2010 from 29.7% to 27.5% respectively. During the same period levels of extreme poverty had remained at about 13% of the urban population of the province. On the other hand, moderate poverty declined quite significantly from 16.7% to 14.4% between the same periods. These results reveal that some of the moderately poor persons in urban areas could have graduated out of poverty between 2006 and 2010 hence the increase in percentage of the non-poor from 70.3% to 72.5 %.( source 2010 national census of population and housing report-CSO).
Given the economic and social challenges of Western Province, the TST felt that this area was a prime location for Brothers who wish to engage with people made poor.
Here is a brief description of the four sites chosen for the new communities