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Economic Recovery Benefits Zimbabweans Despite Low Incomes - Gallup Poll

Eighteen percent of Zimbabweans surveyed are said to be living comfortably on their present household incomes, twice the share seen in 2009

Zimbabweans seem to be benefiting from two straight years of economic growth after the formation of an inclusive government in 2009, according to a new Gallup poll.

Eighteen percent of Zimbabweans surveyed said they are living comfortably on their present household incomes, double the 9 percent share in a 2009 poll.

Meanwhile, the 16 percent who reported they are finding it very hard to get by has significantly declined from the 31 percent found in 2009.

But the Gallup polling firm warned that election-related violence and instability could jeopardize the modest economic gains that Zimbabweans have garnered.

Gallup said the results are based on 1,000 face-to-face interviews with adults aged 15 or older conducted in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Nonetheless, Mabvuku resident Robert Matava said most Zimbabweans continue to struggle to make ends meet. “We usually sell cigarettes to our colleagues at work in order to raise money for transport and other needs,” Matava said.

Mberengwa teacher Onwell Chiponda said the majority of Zimbabweans are living below the poverty line of US$502 for a family of five.

A Bulawayo resident who asked to be identified only as Dube said some Zimbabweans make ends meet by supplementing their main source of income. “Some families sell domestic animals and other valuables to send children to school and buy basic commodities because of low salaries in the public and private sectors,” he said.

The survey found that Zimbabweans' personal economic situations improved dramatically in the past two years. “In 2011, 39 percent of Zimbabweans reported they did not have enough money at times in the past year to buy food they or their families needed, down from 73 percent in 2009 and 80 percent in 2008,” said Gallup.

Now that ordinary Zimbabweans "no longer need to pay Z$10 million for a loaf of bread, many Zimbabweans are finding such basics more affordable," Gallup said. But it acknowledged that "a sizable percentage ... are still struggling.”

Zimbabwean perceptions improved greatly relative to other countries. “Zimbabwe stands out because its scores on the Personal Economy Index increased more than those of any other country surveyed, rising from 8 in 2007 to 43 in 2009.”

Gallup said the outlook of Zimbabweans regarding each of the four items in the Personal Economy Index improved, which might be attributable to the easing of hyperinflation in 2009 and economic growth that year for the first time in a decade.