A new online collection of oral testimonies gathered from communities in Zambia and Pakistan powerfully convey, in their own words, the reality of poverty and its daily oppressions.
The testimonies show that poverty has different faces in the two countries – in Zambia, for example, food insecurity and the human and economic costs of HIV and AIDS preoccupy the narrators. In Pakistan, the narrators living in squatter settlements face continual insecurity and describe the various survival strategies they employ to meet their basic needs. Nevertheless, a number of underlying concerns are common to the different communities, such as the frustration of battling against entrenched power structures, and indifference and corruption among those meant to be representing their interests.
'Whoever comes here make tall promises, but nobody ever helped us. We just hope that after listening to our conversation through you, the government might help us - may pay heed to our voice.' – Fatima, Pakistan.
Lack of voice is just one way that poverty reinforces poverty, as these stories vividly illustrate. Fishing families around Manchar Lake in Pakistan, for example – whose livelihoods have been devastated by man-made pollution of the lake – find themselves locked into debt as a means of survival. Local traders buy their catch, often for less than market value; the same traders lend them money at high interest rates.
Panos London’s head of oral testimony, Siobhan Warrington, says, 'The value of these testimonies is that they are driven by what the narrators want to talk about. As a result they highlight not only the daily hardships of poverty but tell us what people actually living in poverty think needs to be done. These are the real voices that policy-makers should be listening to.'
These collections were gathered in collaboration with, Panos Pakistan, Shirkat Gah, Panos Southern Africa and the Choma Youth Development Organisation.
The testimonies, and photographs can be freely reproduced but please credit Panos London and send an email letting us know to email@example.com