By Scoop Reporter

COST of living has continued to increase every month with the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket (BNNB) for the month of July 2020 increasing by K143.44 to K 7,204.24 from K 7,060.80 recorded last night.

JCTR acting programme manager for social and economic Development Muchimba Siamachoka says the increases in the basket were recorded on the prices of items such as pounded groundnuts, chicken, soya pieces and fruits, tomatoes, beans, mealie meal, among other things.

Ms. Siamachoka says recognising that we are in the middle of health crisis, the promotion of diet diversity and nutrition at household level remains imperative to ensure that households are not vulnerable and easily prone to disease.

She says from the July basket, JCTR is pleased that prices of food items such as roller mealie meal and cassava flour have recorded decreases.

“The Centre implores households to deliberately incorporate roller mealie meal into their diets as it is higher in nutritional content and relatively cheaper than breakfast mealie meal. However, of concern from the basket is the increases recorded in the price of groundnuts and sweet potatoes that contain a wide range of nutrients and are seasonal products.

“The World Health Organisation guidelines provide that at least five portions of fruit and vegetables must be consumed in a day. The slight increases in the prices of other fruits such as apples and oranges is not desirable.

“The sad reality for most vulnerable households is that fruits are deemed as a luxury amongst competing needs. Even with a slight reduction recorded by the inflation rate for the month of July (dropping to 15.8% from the Zambia Statistics Agency June statistics of 15.9%).

“The eminent challenge is that stagnant real wages and reduced disposable income far outweigh this gain. The availability and affordability of most food products in the basket remains affected by disruptions to livelihoods across number of sectors in the economy,” Ms. Siamachoka said.

She says given this reality, JCTR reiterates the need for deliberate attempts to protect the most vulnerable segments of society.

“The recently announced COVID-19 Emergency Social Cash Transfer package is a prudent and timely intervention that needs to be scaled up beyond the targeted beneficiaries on the cash transfer database,” she said.

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