Ferry between Botswana and Zambia

Zambia Great opportunities and challenges

Zambia is home to over 70 different ethnic communities, which generally live together in peace. Compared with other countries in the region, it is regarded as politically largely stable. Yet, increasingly, there are governance deficiencies.

President Edgar Lungu's government is moving to curb freedom of assembly, freedom of opinion and freedom of the press and obstructing the opposition and civil society organisations.

Zambia faces massive obstacles to its development. These include widespread poverty, high rates of malnutrition, pronounced socially inequality, rapid population growth and extremely high levels of public debt. Zambia is ranked 113 out of 117 countries on the 2019 World Hunger Index.

Freedom Statue in Lusaka, Zambia

Governance deficiencies Internal link

After gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1964, Zambia was governed for many years by president and “founding father” Kenneth Kaunda. In 1990, in a peaceful transition of power, Kaunda was replaced by the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD), marking the end of the one-party system.

Children in Mongu, Zambia, return from fishing

Severe rural poverty Internal link

Even during the period of economic growth that lasted until 2014, the lives of Zambia's poor improved very little. More than half of the population lives on less than 1.90 US dollars a day; the situation is particularly severe in rural areas.

Copper mine in Kitwe, Zambia

High levels of public debt Internal link

After many years of strong growth, annual economic growth in Zambia has fallen since 2015 to around three to four per cent. Foreign borrowing going into the billions and excessively expensive public investment projects have been major factors in the state accumulating massive public debt.

Bee-eater in Zambia

Climate change and forest loss Internal link

Zambia is being increasingly confronted with the impact of climate change and is active in international fora to promote climate action. Precipitation patterns have become increasingly irregular, leading to more and more droughts and flooding.

German development cooperation with Zambia

The Federal Republic of Germany and Zambia have maintained friendly relations since the country became independent in 1964. Germany is one of Zambia's larger international cooperation partners. At government negotiations in November 2018, the German government committed new funding of 62.98 million euros to Zambia for development cooperation (2016: 97.5 million euros). Of this amount, 40 million euros was allocated to Financial cooperation and 22.98 million euros to Technical Cooperation.

Under the special BMZ initiative “Tackling the root causes of displacement, reintegrating refugees”, a further 10 million euros is being provided for water supply and sanitation in communities hosting Congolese refugees. Zambia is also a priority country of the special initiative “One World – No Hunger”. In 2018, funds of up to 20.1 million euros were made available for the development of the agricultural sector and for food security.

Development cooperation between German and Zambia pursues the following goals:

  • Promoting good governance
    The aim is to strengthen reform-minded forces within both state and civil society, to promote transparency and accountability and to increase domestic resource mobilisation. Efforts to promote decentralisation focus on strengthening democratic structures at grassroot level.
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation
    The priority is to protect the country's water resources, which are under increasing threat from climate change. The aim is to preserve Zambia's great agricultural potential and its capacity to generate electricity using hydropower. The increased use of renewable energies (solar power and hydropower) is also being promoted.
  • Fighting poverty and malnutrition
    One major focus is on improving access to water and sanitation for poor target groups. As a pilot country in the special initiative “One World – No Hunger”, Zambia's small farmers are being helped to gain access to agricultural tools and machinery, and the nutrition of women and children is being improved. Young people are also being educated about HIV/AIDS.

Misuse of development funds

In the summer of 2018, indications emerged that official development funds from two programmes supported by international donors had been misused. The donors concerned subsequently suspended payments to these programmes until the case had been fully investigated. The UK also suspended all direct payments into Zambian accounts.

The BMZ had already stopped making direct payments into the Zambian budget under its bilateral development cooperation in 2016. Since then, bilateral commitments for new cooperation activities have only been made for specific and closely monitored projects.

In August 2018, indications emerged that some funds from a long-standing water project that was still being funded through direct payments had been misused. The German government resolved the case by formulating clear demands and conducting a close dialogue. At the most recent government negotiations, for example, it did not commit funding for two planned projects in the water sector. In response, the Zambian government transferred the misused funds back to the joint project account at the end of November

Voters in the 2011 presidential elections in Zambia

Transparency and participation Internal link

Good governance is vital in facilitating economic development and poverty reduction. Germany is supporting Zambia in developing good financial governance, improving political participation and moving forward the process of decentralisation.

Employee cleaning a filter basin of a waterworks in Livingstone, Zambia

Securing the water supply for the general population Internal link

Zambia has enormous water resources. And yet, very many people have no access to safe drinking water. Access to proper sanitation in particular is inadequate, especially in rural regions and the growing suburbs, where poverty is highly prevalent.

Other areas of cooperation

Expansion of renewable energies

Germany has adopted a regional programme to address climate change; in southern Africa it is primarily supporting the use of renewable energies. One part of this is the Get Fit programme, which helps the Zambian state to find private investors for the expansion of solar power and small-scale hydropower. The German government is also supporting the refurbishment and expansion of Chishimba Falls hydropower station, which is in the particularly poor north of the country.

Solar system on a latrine in rural Zambia

Solar system on a latrine in rural Zambia

Solar system on a latrine in rural Zambia

Agricultural development and food security

Zambia is one of the pilot countries in the BMZ special initiative “One World – No Hunger”. A Green Innovation Centre has been established, where small farmers are helped to boost their income by organising and increasing production in a sustainable way with minimum impact on soils.

They also receive support for the processing of their products, with the focus on the value chains for dairy products and legumes. Many small farmers in Zambia still work the land using hoes. Two agricultural financing projects have been set up to enable them to lease or obtain loans for seed and agricultural machinery and also to learn more about managing their farms. Another particularly important focus in Zambia is tackling malnutrition.

One project helps local authority bodies in two districts in Eastern Province to independently plan and coordinate the many steps required for guaranteeing food security. The people there, particularly young mothers, are also advised on how to maintain a balanced diet and on good hygiene.

Protection against infections and unwanted pregnancies

Germany's activities in this field are limited but effective; the main aim is to protect young people from contracting HIV and from unwanted pregnancies and, in particular, to strengthen girls' rights. Interactive “join-in circuits” are offered at schools, which use quizzes, games and discussions to impart basic knowledge about HIV to all pupils.

Child in Luapula in the northwest of Zambia at the border to the Democratic Republic of Congo

Child in Luapula in the northwest of Zambia at the border to the Democratic Republic of Congo

Child in Luapula in the northwest of Zambia at the border to the Democratic Republic of Congo

Helping Zambia to meet the refugees' basic needs

Zambia has taken in some 75,000 refugees from other African countries, mainly the Democratic Republic of the Congo (August 2018 figures). Germany is helping Zambia to meet the refugees’ basic needs. It is, for example, helping to fund a UNICEF programme to improve drinking water and sanitation in host communities.