Ferry between Botswana and Zambia

Zambia Hoping for reforms – massive challenges

Zambia is home to over 70 different ethnic communities, which generally live together in peace. Compared with other countries in southern Africa, it is regarded as politically largely stable. In summer 2021, Zambia experienced a peaceful change of power.

Straight to
Copper mine in Kitwe, Zambia
At the presidential elections, the opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema unexpectedly managed to successfully beat the incumbent president Edgar Lungu. Lungu had been in power since 2015, becoming increasingly authoritarian and restricting the space for democratic participation more and more.

The government under President Hichilema is pursuing an ambitious reform agenda, but is facing considerable challenges. These include widespread poverty, malnutrition, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consequences of climate change, pronounced social inequality, rapid population growth and extremely high levels of public debt. In late 2020, Zambia had to announce that it was defaulting on its debts to international creditors.

German development cooperation with Zambia

Bärbel Kofler, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
German-Zambian government negotiations at the BMZ in November 2022
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 2022, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) made a new commitment of 94.5 million euros to Zambia.

Under the BMZ's Special Initiative “Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems” , an additional 43 million euros was made available to Zambia. The BMZ is making these commitments to support the ambitious political reform agenda of Zambian President Hichilema who is committed to overcoming the high levels of public debt, enhancing democracy and pursuing active climate policies. The next government negotiations are probably going to take place in autumn 2024.

Development cooperation between Germany and Zambia is aimed at supporting Zambia’s ambitious reform agenda. Part of the funds which were newly committed in November 2022, will be used to assist Zambia in its financial management. Additional new programmes are aimed at protecting water resources with innovative approaches in the south of the country – a particularly dry region – and assisting the government in adapting agriculture and food to climate change. In the margins of the government negotiations held in November 2022, the Zambian and the German delegation together visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and discussed first findings of a study on Zambia’s agricultural sector.

The focus of development cooperation with Zambia is on strengthening good governance, supporting efforts to adapt to climate change, and fighting poverty and malnutrition. This involves concentrating on the following core areas:

  • Peaceful and inclusive societies
    Area of intervention: Good governance
  • Conserving nature and natural resources, protecting life on Earth
    Area of intervention: Water
  • Transformation of agricultural and food systems
    Areas of intervention: Food security, agriculture. Funding here is channelled primarily through the Special Initiative “Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems”.

In addition to these core areas, the BMZ is also providing support for increasing the use of renewables.

Zambia also benefits from various regional and global programmes. German development cooperation in Zambia is closely linked with the activities of the European Union in Zambia; a joint programming document will soon be completed.

Voters in the 2011 presidential elections in Zambia

Core area “Peaceful and inclusive societies” 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, moving forward the process of decentralisation and strengthening the rights of women and girls.

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

Core area “Conserving nature and natural resources” Securing water and sanitation 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 extremely inadequate, especially in rural regions and the growing suburbs, where poverty is highly prevalent.

Zambia: Harison and Sarah Mbao are contractual partners of COMACO (Community Markets for Conservation). The non-profit company buys the peanut harvest of smallholder families at a fair price.

Core area “Transformation of agricultural and food systems” Reducing malnutrition with the help of sustainable agriculture Internal link

Cooperation in this area has the goal of achieving a life free of hunger and comprises several German projects on food security and on promoting agriculture in Zambia. Small farmers are being helped with organising, boosting their income and increasing production in ways that are sustainable, climate-resilient and soil friendly.

Current situation

Freedom Statue in Lusaka, Zambia
HIV prevention workshop in Lusaka, Zambia
Copper mine in Kitwe, Zambia
Bee-eater in Zambia

As at: 13/12/2022