Zambia | ActionAid UK


  • 75
    75% of the population live on less than $1.25 per day.1
  • 42
    42% of girls are married by their 18th birthday.2
  • 9
    89 out of every 1,000 children born die before the age of five.3

Almost two thirds of people in Zambia live below the poverty line. At the same time, multinational companies are making huge profits in the country, while not paying their fair share in taxes. Widespread tax avoidance is leaving Zambia’s government short of the money it needs to invest in the health and education of its people, and is crippling the country’s infrastructure. 

For two out of three people, farming is their main source of income. Climate change, soil erosion and deforestation are affecting farmers’ abilities to feed themselves and their families. 

In remote areas, few girls are able to go to school, or complete their studies. Many girls are taken out of school to get married. As a result, around 42% of women living in rural areas are illiterate, compared to 23% of men.

Barclays Stunt - Lusaka

Campaigners and ActionAid Zambia staff dressed in gold suits march to Barclays headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia, to demand that Barclays stop encouraging its corporate clients to avoid paying taxes by using tax havens, in December 2013

Photo: ActionAid

Southern Africa food crisis 2020

ActionAid is assessing the situation in Zambia and neighbouring countries.

In Zambia, a dry spell is expected in March and the current hunger situation is predicted to continue until May/June 2020 when the crops are ready to be harvested.

We are scaling up to respond to the food crisis and have idenitified the following priorities:

  • Distribution of chlorine to sterilise water.
  • Coordination of food and water distribution in 6 districts of Zambia.

Read more about what is happening in Zambia and neighbouring countries right now and what ActionAid is doing to help.

What we do in Zambia

Empowering women to fight discrimination

In rural areas of Zambia, traditional practices like child marriage and customary laws that prevent women from owning land mean that women and girls are often treated like second class citizens. Women are frequently cut out of decision making that affects them, and violence against women is high; 59% of women in Zambia experience physical violence in their lifetime1.

That’s why ActionAid has helped set up Reflect Circles in rural Zambia - safe spaces for groups of women to meet and discuss issues chosen by and relevant to them. Through diagrams, dance, music and other non-traditional methods of learning, Reflect Circles have empowered women in a range of skills from setting up small businesses, reading and writing, to understanding and asserting their rights. Together women identify the problems they face and find lasting solutions, improving their communities from within.

Training farmers to grow more food

Every year, climate change, soil erosion and deforestation are making it more difficult for farmers in Zambia to feed themselves and their families.

ActionAid trains farmers in simple conservation skills, such as compost making and crop rotation, so that fields can be replanted again and again. Now farmers no longer have to cut down trees every season to make new fields, protecting the soil from erosion and turning into desert.

Helping children get an education

For many children in Zambia, going to school is difficult. Often children have to walk for long distances to get to their classes, classrooms are in poor condition and there’s a lack of trained teachers. Many children are also forced to marry or start work before they have finished primary school. 

We have helped set up Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) across Zambia, so that parents understand the benefits of sending their children to school, as well as how to lobby their local government to provide quality education. We encourage local communities to educate their girls and provide rural schoolchildren with bicycles to get to their classes safely and on time.

Our Tax Power Campaign

ActionAid Zambia is one of 20 countries campaigning for tax justice – calling for multinational corporations to pay their taxes in poor countries so that it can be used to pay for public services like education, healthcare and new roads.

How we change lives for good in Zambia

Read stories of women and girls we've helped.



Top image: Nalishebo holds an uprooted wild grass known as Zita which is cleaned and dried, pounded and then cooked for the family to eat in the absence of any other nourishment during the food crisis in Zambia. Fredrick Ntoka/ActionAid