HARARE – The country’s poverty datum line rose 5.5% to $4 670.04 in December from $4 425.64 the previous month. This means that a person required $150 or US$1.84 per day to purchase both non-food and food items in December 2020 in order not to be deemed poor.
The increase in the living cost is in line with the movement on the month-on-month inflation, which closed December at 4.22%.
The PDL is now measured using the lower bound poverty line, which is estimated by calculating the mean amount spent on non-food items for those households whose total expenditure is close to the food poverty line and then adding this mean amount to the food poverty line.
The primary purpose of the national poverty lines is to provide a tool for the statistical measurement of money-metric poverty. The lines contain both food and non-food components of household consumption expenditure. According to Zimstat, the use of the lower bound poverty line was with effect from November 2020. The statistics agency also discontinued the use of family-based poverty lines.
The figures show that the food poverty line stood at $3 493.73, an increase of 6.5% from November’s $3 279.41.
While the updated national poverty lines help establish a government baseline, they do not accurately reflect the plight of many poor Zimbabweans, who often end up substantially worse off, as they provide for themselves and their family members. With the current figures, the living cost is below the international poverty line of US$1.90 per day. The standard for middle income countries is at US$3.20 and US$5.50 for upper middle-income countries.
It is however estimated that at least 65% of Zimbabwean households have per capita consumption expenditures below the PDL with a Gini coefficient score of below 0.50 and are vulnerable to multi-dimensional poverty. This comes as households’ livelihoods have been severely impacted by stagnant wage levels against a general slowdown of economic activity.
Across the provinces, Mashonaland Central province has the highest living cost $5 404.45, which is however a decline from $5 410.79 in November. Matabeleland South has the lowest living cost at $4 102.39. Among the metropolitan provinces Bulawayo has the highest living cost at $5 127.15 against Harare’s $4 865.20.