More on Zambia

Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Despite political stability and more than a decade of consistent economic growth, the country faces numerous challenges including food insecurity, undernutrition, chronic poverty and natural disasters.

Zambia was reclassified by the World Bank as a lower middle-income country in 2011. While it has maintained an admirable economic growth rate at over six percent for the past decade, Zambia's human development indicators remain static, with the country still ranking 139 out of 188 countries in the 2015 Human Development Index.

Zambia’s robust economic growth in recent years may not continue if lower global commodity prices, especially for copper, lead to depleted foreign currency reserves, impacting exchange rates and inflation. 

What are the current issues in Zambia

  • Gender inequality

    Zambia ranks 133 of 155 countries on the Gender Inequality Index. Approximately one in four Zambian households are female-headed. Extremely high levels of discrimination and gender inequality still exist in Zambia.

  • Climate change

    Climate change is a growing cause of concern in Zambia. Given its geography, the country is highly vulnerable to drought. The last 20 years have seen rainfall patterns changing significantly, this can have severe impacts, especially for the seven million Zambian smallholder farmers who cultivate less than two hectares of land and rely on rainfall to feed their families. Erratic rainfall has also affected hydro-electric power generation, preventing industries from functioning at full capacity. Climatic shocks have enduring consequences, trapping people in a cycle of poverty and keeping malnutrition rates stubbornly high.

  • Poor service delivery

    In a country so large and sparsely populated as Zambia, cost-effective last-mile delivery of services is a major barrier to the sustainable development for the 9 million Zambians living in rural areas. The interaction between rural poverty and poor service delivery is cyclical and self-reinforcing: rural communities, and smallholder farmers in particular have poor access to agricultural inputs, markets and improved agricultural practices.

  • Malnutrition

    At 48 percent, Zambia has one of the highest rates of undernourished people in the world. In absolute figures, the number of undernourished people has more than doubled in the last 20 years to 7.4 million people. Approximately 40 percent of children under five suffer from stunting and 6 percent from wasting. Malnutrition rates are slightly higher among boys, and significantly higher among poor and rural children. Some 53 percent of children under five years of age and 30 percent among women of child-bearing age are anaemic, and rates of micronutrient supplementation are low although micronutrient deficiencies remain high. Particularly in rural areas, consumption patterns and micronutrient intake are highly seasonal.

  • Social inequality

    In Zambia, strong economic growth has not resulted in improved nutrition, food security for all or equitable social development. With a Gini coefficient estimated at 0.575, levels of social inequality are among the highest in the world. Poverty levels stand at 63 percent, with extreme poverty at 42 percent, rising to 70 percent in certain rural provinces where the majority of the population rely on subsistence agriculture.

WFP is aiming to do the following in 2016 in support of the Government of Zambia:

  • provide 1,000,000 primary school children with nutritious meals daily that are sourced from local produce in 2016,
  • link smallholder farmers to markets so they can increase their incomes and food security,
  • promote improved nutrition and better resilience to climatic shocks across the country

What the World Food Programme is doing in Zambia

WFP has been in Zambia since 1967 and is committed to providing food assistance to more than 1,000,000 people in Zambia in 2016. WFP programme activities in Zambia operate within the framework of a Country Programme (CP), running from January 2016 to December 2020. This CP has three components: i) home-grown school feeding; ii) nutrition; and iii) resilience-building. WFP will provide technical assistance for each of these components that will focus on the implementation of long-term programmes such as social protection, nutrition governance for nutrition-sensitive programming and building disaster resilience. These areas are in line with the Government’s agenda to reduce poverty and malnutrition.

To strengthen food and nutrition security, WFP aims to develop synergies across its activities and between national initiatives in agriculture, market access, education, nutrition, resilience building and social protection. By doing this, as well as assisting the most vulnerable, WFP is committed to helping the Government create an environment conducive to the sustainable development of all Zambians.

  • Home Grown School Feeding

    At the heart of WFP’s work in Zambia is a national Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme that provides almost one million children with nutritious cooked meals every day they attend school. Most of the HGSF food is sourced within Zambia, helping to boost rural economies. Wherever possible it is purchased from smallholder farmers helping to generate circular benefits in education, agriculture, nutrition, social protection, community development job creation and economic growth. The programme, introduced by WFP during a food crisis in 2002, is now managed and funded by primarily the Government. Government’s objective is to increase the scale of the programme to reach 2 million school children by 2020. WFP will provide support based on its expertise developing and implementing school feeding programmes that reach more than 18 million children every year. HGSF has both short-term and long-term benefits: for every US$1 spent on school feeding, WFP estimates a long-term economic return of more than US$3 thanks to better nutrition and improved educational attainment.

Featured Zambia publications

  • Zambia: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 510 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on Zambia? Visit the Zambia publications archive.