Poverty in Zambia

Our pal Michael Hobbes has a feature at Pacific Standard today looking at poverty in Zambia. An excerpt:

I work for an international development NGO. Part of my job is traveling to developing countries to gather information on the conditions there, to meet people who are working to improve them.

Given what I just admitted, maybe it’s a bit weird that helping countries go from poor to rich is part of what I do for a living. But the more I do this, the less I’m sure of. Like Tolstoy’s unhappy family, every poor country is poor in its own way, and everyone I meet has a narrative, a creation myth, for how it got this way and why it remains so.

I will spend the next 10 days meeting NGO activists, government officials, and business representatives. They will tell me that Zambia is terrible, that Zambia is fine, and that Zambia is getting better, respectively.

I’m not here to determine which of those statements is true. I’m here for the numbers, the information I can’t get back home. Somewhere between the handshakes, the spreadsheets, the PowerPoints, the annual reports, a story will emerge about Zambia, a story of a country watching its mineral wealth disappear, a country making everyone rich but itself.

Photo: Surreal Name Givem

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