‘We can sell your body parts’: the poverty lurking behind a tourist paradise

Harriet Barber and Simon Townsley

One nine-year-old girl looks down at her bare feet. “My family can’t pay for the shoes,” she told the Telegraph. “You need shoes to go to school.”

A thirty-minute drive away, Lusaka is bustling with businessmen and international tourists arriving for safari tours and sights like Victoria Falls. 

Zambia has one of the highest inequality rates in the world. An estimated 58 per cent of 18 million Zambians live below the poverty line, compared to 41 per cent across Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Thirty-five per cent of children are stunted as a result of inadequate nutrition, and 29 per cent of 20-24 year old women were married as children – one of the highest child marriage rates in Africa, according to Unicef.

“There’s essentially an emerging middle class that is able to access good, formal jobs – probably 10 per cent of the population – and the rest of the country survives on agriculture,” said Twivwe Siwale, a policy economist for the International Growth Centre. “The difference in living standards are quite stark, it’s quite grim.”