Although Zambia has enjoyed significant economic growth in the last decade, it remains one of the least-developed countries in the world, ranking 164 out of 187 countries in the 2011 UN Human Development. The country is seriously off track on the poverty Millennium Development Goal (MDG1) and inequality remains very high. Women suffer disproportionately; violence against women is widespread and maternal mortality rates (MDG5) are high. The foremost challenge for the Zambian economy is to spread wealth to rural areas and the Committee welcomes DFID's proposed rural markets development programme, which seeks to increase the productivity of poor smallholder farmers by strengthening markets for inputs and crops. Lack of access to reproductive health services is one of the key reasons maternal mortality is high. The report recommends that DFID encourage the Zambian Government to allow clinicians other than doctors, including nurses and midwives, to be trained to provide Long-Acting and Permanent Method contraception. DFID should focus its efforts on rural areas and young people. Secondary, tertiary and vocational education should also be prioritised in DFID's education expenditure. There is a particular need for business education with a lack of competent middle management across the Zambian economy in the public and private sector. The report also highlights major inefficiencies in Zambia's public expenditure - which, if removed, could free up revenues to improve public services. The biggest of these is the maize subsidy
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