More on Zambia

What are the current issues in Zambia

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 6 percent for the past decade, Zambia's human development indicators remain static, with the country still ranking 163 out of 186 countries in the 2012 Human Development Index. Zambia's population is 13 million, with 61 percent living in urban and 39 percent in rural areas.

Despite the improved economic performance, issues such as income inequality and poor access to services have not been addressed as expected.Numerous challenges burden the country, including high rates of malnutrition, poverty, food insecurity, HIV and AIDS and malaria.

While Zambia has reduced the rate of extreme poverty from 58 percent (1991) to 42.7 percent (2010), extreme poverty continues to be much higher in rural areas (57 percent) compared to urban areas (13 percent ). Zambia's food security challenges are worsened by a high dependence on rain-fed agriculture and the absence of market incentives to encourage a fundamental shift from subsistence farming. Consequently, access to food is a challenge for many. According to the Zambia Vulnerability Assessment Committee, the number of people at risk of food insecurity is up from about 63,000 in 2012 to about 209,000 in 2013. This is attributed to localized poor crop production due to poor weather conditions in some parts of the country.

Zambia is currently host to 34,000 refugees and people of concern. Some 28,000, of which half are Angolans, reside in settlements in Mayukwayukwa Refugee Settlement in the Western province and Meheba Refugee Settlement in the North-Western province. The rest of the refugees reside outside the camps and do not receive material assistance. A cessation clause for Angolan refugees was effected in June 2012 and since then the Zambian government has been processing applications for local integration of the Angolans who are now people of concern. Additionally, another cessation clause, affecting 4,000 former Rwandans, took effect in June 2013. The Zambian Government expects that most of the 4,000 Rwandan refugees in the country will return home. UNHCR will support the repatriation of refugees willing to return home, while resettlement will be used for refugees who lack foreseeable alternative solutions or who have specific protection needs.

High food prices and high unemployment rates combine to place considerable stresses on the most vulnerable sectors of the population. The national HIV prevalence rate is ranked 7th globally at 12.7 percent, and chronic malnutrition stands at 45.4 percent. Some 53 percent and 46 percent of Zambian children have Vitamin A and iron deficiency respectively, compromising their long term development. Zambia is part of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative and is focusing growing interest on nutritional issues.

According to national statistics, there have been significant improvements in school enrolment rates since the mid-1990s but educational attainment in Zambia remains low and inequitable. The median years of completed schooling for the adult population are only six, meaning many Zambians have not achieved the required seven years of primary education. While gender disparities have narrowed, gaps between rural and urban areas remain large.

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 900,000 people in Zambia in 2013. WFP programme activities in Zambia operate within the framework of a Country Programme (CP), which began in 2011, and a Protracted Relief and Response (PRRO) operation which is in its phase-out stage. The CP aims to support social protection for vulnerable households, while the PRRO provides food assistance to refugees in need.

All WFP activities in Zambia are implemented as an integral part of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and in line with the ‘Delivering as One’ mechanism under which UN agencies in selected countries have pledged to work together to ensure a more coordinated and effective level of action in areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment. Though not among the original pilot countries to sign up to the initiative, Zambia is among those that have agreed to take specific steps towards the goal of Delivering as One.

The WFP Strategic Plan (2008-2013) is aligned with both the Sixth National Development Programme (2011-2015) and the UNDAF (2011-2015). The overarching goal of the strategy is to support the Zambian Government's priorities to reach the MDG hunger targets and ensure long-term solutions to hunger, consistent with the Government of Zambia's ‘Vision 2030’. The strategy is premised on a social protection approach that demands a shift from reactive and localized poverty reduction efforts to country-led proactive, consistent, and sustainable nationwide poverty reduction initiatives implemented in harmony by multi-stakeholders.

Since the 1970s, the Government of the Republic of Zambia has consistently granted asylum to people seeking refuge from Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Angola, Burundi, Rwanda and Somalia. WFP food assistance to refugees in Zambia was phased out at the end of June 2013, and the refugee PRRO will officially close on the 31st of December 2013 due to the reduction in the number of vulnerable refugees to below 5,000 (the minimum threshold for WFP assistance as stipulated in the global UNHCR/WFP Memorandum of Understanding signed in July 2002). As part of a phase-out plan, WFP provided technical and financial support to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to conduct a market survey in August 2013 that assessed the potential effectiveness of a Cash and Vouchers (C&V) programme among the refugee population. Through an examination of availability, affordability, and acceptability by the local population, the market survey identified C&V as an effective delivery channel for locally-sourced food products to the refugee population. As such, plans are underway by UNHCR for its implementation.

  • Country Programme

The CP contributes to WFP's Strategic Objectives 2, 4 and 5 and United Nations Development Assistance Framework Outcomes 1 to 5, as well as towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The CP focuses on:

  • Improving human capital through food based safety-nets;
  • Improving Government preparedness to respond to and mitigate disasters as a way of reducing vulnerability; and
  • Expanding market opportunities for smallholder farmers by leveraging local food procurement.

WFP is expanding its Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme to strengthen its link to small-scale producers, while taking measures to transfer ownership and management of the programme to the Zambian Government. HGSF works within the Government’s agricultural frameworks, and promotes the production and consumption of nutritious products. The Home Grown School Feeding programme in its expanded version provides an opportunity for the Government to meet its poverty reduction, food security, social protection, nutrition and education objectives.

The Government’s commitment to addressing under-nutrition is reflected in Zambia’s membership of the SUN Early Riser initiative. Stunting levels in Zambia stand at 45.5%, a high prevalence relative to other countries in the region. WFP, working with other UN agencies and cooperating partners, has committed itself to supporting the Government in attaining its targets for the reduction of stunting. This support will come at various levels, including policy through advocacy and programme design involving the mainstreaming of nutrition in key sectors like social protection, education and agriculture. WFP will also use its HGSF programme as an entry point for nutrition education.

  • Purchase for Progress

Purchase for Progress (P4P) is a WFP global pilot project aimed at supporting smallholder farmers to improve their marketing opportunities through increased access and better linkages to more lucrative markets. Through P4P, WFP is supporting the Zambian Government in strengthening its capacity to provide social safety nets to assist poor and hungry households and is committed to purchasing Zambian-grown commodities for food assistance interventions in the country and the region.

P4P is currently using its purchasing power to mobilize and procure food supplies from smallholder farmers for the school feeding basket in all the districts where WFP is implementing the HGSF programme. This is in turn helping trigger increased productivity among local farmers and thereby increasing their food and nutrition security and incomes. Activities implemented under the P4P programme in collaboration with implementing partners include: the empowerment of women through animal traction (WEAT), increasing market access and post-harvest handling and storage, and promoting sustainable agriculture methods and business and entrepreneurship skills through training.

To implement its P4P activities, WFP works with various partners including ZAMACE, Musika, World Vision, Kawambwa District Farmers Association (KDFA) Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), Dunavant, ADRA, Ministry of agriculture and livestock and Heifer. P4P activities are implemented in five provinces/regions and 11 districts, namely: Southern Province (Kalomo, Choma, Monze, and Mazabuka districts), Central province (Kabwe and Mkushi districts), Eastern Province (Petauke, Katete, Chadiza, and Chipata district), Luapula Province (Kawambwa district), and North-western Province (Mwinilunga district).

  • Mobile Delivery and Trucking

The Mobile Delivery and Tracking (MDT) unit is unique to WFP Zambia. Originally started to roll out an electronic food voucher program known as Splash, it has transitioned to providing technical support to national programmes in agriculture, education, health, and social protection programmes. The unit supports the Government through the Food Reserve Agency, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health.
The MDT unit participates in several Mobile Technology (M-Tech) Technical Working Groups with the Government, and is a vital member of the Cooperating Partners Group, which includes UNICEF, DFID, and Irish AID among others.

Currently, the unit is implementing the following long-term projects:

  • Mobile Data Collection for the Social Cash Transfer Programme
  • Mobile Technology pilot for the Ministry of Education
  • Mobile Technology pilot for the Food Reserve Agency
  • Engaging the private sector on the distribution of an affordable, acceptable, and accessible nutritious food product

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.