Zambia has a reputation for political stability and for having a relatively healthy economy compared with the rest of the southern Africa region. In September 2011, Zambia held a peaceful presidential election, but despite the country’s relative stability, poverty levels remained high in 2012, particularly in rural areas. Meanwhile, urban communities faced pressure from increased costs of living, particularly for food.
Concern began working in Zambia in 2003 in response to drought in the country’s Southern Province. Concern’s Zambia program is currently focusing on livelihoods, gender equality, and HIV and AIDS interventions.
LIVELIHOODS - Improving the well-being of the extreme poor through increased income, improved gender equality, and sustainable agriculture
Through the Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition (RAIN) Program, Concern is working to reduce the prevalence of chronic malnutrition among young children and to improve the nutritional status of pregnant and breastfeeding women. Concern is achieving this objective by ensuring that women develop increased influence in decision-making regarding household-level agricultural production and money spent on food. The project works with poor women farmers to improve their nutritional status and that of their families as well as to raise awareness about nutrition and health.
Concern is implementing a conservation agriculture program that is working to diversify household livelihood options in a sustainable way. We are improving household nutrition by providing legume seeds such as beans, cowpeas, and groundnuts as well as oilseeds such as sunflower seeds. As a result of these contributions, combined with comprehensive training on conservation agriculture methods, poor farmers are benefiting from increased crop yields, enhanced access to markets, and cash crops to supplement subsistence farming. The program has also led to the diversification of the local diet, which is largely dependent on seasonal foods for protein. Through conservation agriculture training, farmers are beginning to incorporate practices such as early planting and soil improvement to increase their resiliency to erratic rainfall. Despite a rainfall deficit that was 33 percent below average during the 2011–2012 farming season, farmers managed to double district averages for staple food production.
HIV and AIDS - Reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS and improving quality of life for those infected
Concern works directly with extremely vulnerable children and their guardians, youth, and people living with HIV and AIDS to reduce the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS. Through our education campaigns, Concern promotes safe sex practices and a greater understanding and awareness of the causes of HIV and AIDS transmission.
Infection with HIV or AIDS very often results in social stigma, discrimination, and a high risk of death as well as increased numbers of child-headed and elderly-headed households. Children living in these households face additional burdens that significantly diminish their chances of accessing education.
Concern works to ensure that orphans and vulnerable children continue their education with initiatives that aim to reduce absenteeism and dropout rates. The program supports children by providing school fees and life skills training as well as psychosocial support. An evaluation of the program in October 2012 revealed that over 80 percent of the vulnerable children with whom Concern works would not be able to attend school without this support.
ZAMBIA AT A GLANCE
Area: 753,000 sq km
Population: 13.9 million
GDP per capita: $1,423
Infant mortality (per thousand births): 69
Life expectancy: 49.4
Living with HIV and AIDS: 12.5 percent
Literacy rate: 71.2 percent
Without access to safe water: 39 percent
Human development rank: 163 (out of 187)