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Livelihoods and Chronic Poverty in Semi-Arid Zimbabwe

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Written by Andrew Shepherd, Kate Bird

Remoteness and geographic (natural, physical, human and social) capital are contrasted with social and political exclusion in explaining persistent rural poverty. We found that persistent poverty was strongly associated with the structural poverty of Zimbabwe’s semi-arid communal areas. Relative urban proximity assisted income diversification and improvement in a very poor, socially and politically excluded area. Less excluded but remote areas remained poor but not as poor as the excluded population. Livelihoods changed and diversified more in the nonremote area, speeding poverty reduction as measured by an index of perceived change. We conclude with what policy options and sequence might support the inclusion of chronically poor people.

Kate Bird, Andrew Shepherd