After years of impressive economic performance and achieving lower middle-income status in 2011, Zambia’s economic performance has stalled in recent years. More than half of its population still lives below the poverty line. The COVID-19 pandemic put further strain on the economy that was already weakened by recurrent climate shocks, falling copper prices and unsustainable fiscal policies, undermining government’s efforts to deliver social protection, alleviate poverty, reduce malnutrition and achieve zero hunger.
Zambia’s malnutrition rates remain among the highest in the world. 48 percent of the population unable to meet their minimum calories requirements and more than one-third of children under five years stunted. Limited knowledge of nutrition, poor feeding practices and limited and unhealthy diets are the main impairing contributing factors.
While food production at the national level routinely exceeds domestic requirements, the availability of and access to adequate nutritious food remains a challenge for many poor households, which is compounded by the country’s over-reliance on maize. Overweight and obesity, especially among women, is a growing problem attributed to high consumption of unhealthy diets.
Zambia’s 1.5 million smallholder farmers producing most of the domestic food supplies are extremely vulnerable to climatic shocks, as they predominately depend on rain-fed agriculture. Furthermore, they face limited access to high quality inputs, climate and post-harvest management information, sustainable markets and financial services. While women constitute 80 percent of food producers, they benefit less than men from available resources and have smaller holdings.
Zambia currently hosts about 76,000 refugees and asylum seekers across the country. Over 18,000 refugees reside in Mantapala Refugee Settlement. Most of them (80 percent) are women and children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and require humanitarian assistance to survive.
Since 1967, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been a strategic partner to the Government for the achievement of zero hunger. In recent years, it has driven innovation and positive change in the areas of disaster risk management, smallholder farmer support, school feeding and social protection. WFP is currently focusing its efforts on strengthening national systems and capacities and providing support for programmes and coordination in pursuit of a food-secure Zambia by 2030.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Zambia
WFP works to enable food-insecure people to meet their basic food and nutrition needs. Cash and food assistance is provided to refugees from the DRC residing in Mantapala Refugee Settlement, as well as vulnerable people affected by climate shocks and COVID-19. Cash assistance allows people to buy the food they prefer, contributing towards diversifying diets.
WFP works with the Government to promote the production and availability of nutritious food, by supporting smallholder farmers to produce nutritious food and engaging with the private sector through the SUN Business Network (SBN). WFP supports the Government in generating and strengthening evidence on nutrition to advocate for greater investment and inform the design of programmes and policy.
Smallholder farmer support
WFP supports smallholder farmers across Zambia to improve and restore their livelihoods and enhance their resilience against future shocks. Through trainings and infrastructure development, smallholder farmers are supported to access and use productive assets, climate information, financial services and markets. WFP prioritizes the needs of women farmers who have less access than men to agricultural inputs.
Strengthening government social protection systems
WFP strengthens the efficiency and effectiveness of nationally owned social protection programmes - the Home-Grown School Meals (HGSM) programme, the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) programme and national disaster preparedness and response. WFP also supports the Government to set up and manage cost effective school hydroponic gardens, with the aim of improving nutrition and promoting healthy diets in children.
WFP leverages on its expertise in buying, storing and distributing food to provide logistics support and services to the Government and partners to transport health equipment, food supplies, and agricultural inputs as part of the COVID-19 response and other national priorities. In addition, UN agencies and the Government will be supported through the provision of storage facilities for relief food and non-food items on demand.
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