Mining, welfare and urbanisation: the wavering urban character of Zambia’s Copperbelt

This article focuses on the character of life and social welfare services in the mining towns of what was once the most urbanised country in central Africa. The services provided by mining companies varied over the years: from minimal at the time of the industry’s establishment in the 1920s; to a period of largesse between the 1950s and the late 1970s; and then a slow decline following the slide in world copper prices. The withdrawal of the mines from welfare provision from the mid-1990s to the present has radically altered not only people’s well-being, but…