In Zambia, more than half (61%) of our population of 19.6million live below the international poverty line, earning less than $2.15 per day. The COVID-19 pandemic put further pressure on our economy, which had already been weakened by climate shocks and global market fluctuations.
While Zambia is experiencing growth in urban areas, three-quarters of the poor live in rural areas, and the future for them is much more uncertain.
Ripple Effect works with regional partner the Zambian Rainbow Development Foundation (ZRDF), to support families living in the Mkushi and Luano Districts in the central province of Zambia.
The ZRDF and Ripple Effect approaches work together to focus on:
Challenges and opportunities for Ripple Effect and ZRDF
Since 1960, the average yearly temperature in Zambia has risen by 1.3°C: far greater than the global average. Rainfall in the rainy season has decreased every decade by 7.1mm.
There are approximately 1.5million smallholder farmers in Zambia who rely on crops as a source of food and income.
Climate shocks and changes in weather patterns make it difficult for farmers to plan planting and harvesting times which leads to crop failure, hunger and poverty.
Rainfall is especially important as Zambia’s staple produce cassava and maize are both rainfed crops.
Droughts caused by the climate crisis has increased the number of climate refugees migrating to the Central Province where ZRDF works. This has led to an increased strain on environmental resources that were already struggling to sustain the current population.
The sustainable farming practises that we share in our self-help groups are climate-positive, meaning they support nature to provide immediate impact against climate shocks, and work long-term to alleviate and mitigate environmental harm.
Over 90% of women in rural areas are employed in the informal agricultural sector but they have decreased power and agency due to gender inequality.
- Due to patriarchal behaviours and power imbalances, women have fewer opportunities to participate in key decision-making positions and less access to resources.
Participation of women in decision-making positions remains low with women currently representing 20.5% of political positions in the country.
All these factors result in low female representation in formal employment, poor access to social services, and high levels of teenage pregnancy, child marriage, and intimate partner violence (IPV).
Ripple Effect and ZRDF are tacking gender equality [link to gender page] by integrating it into our programs. ZRDF’s Menstrual Health project supported 1,697 young girls in 2023, enabling them to remain in education by improving access to eco-sanitary products, suitable sanitation and health education for boys and girls.
- According to the Education Policy and Data Centre, in 2018 13% of Zambian primary school-age children (7-13) were out of school. However, this disproportionately affects poor children where 25% of poor children are out of school.
In Zambia, we have a lack of safe and suitable schools. The government has extended the Education For All policy from primary education to include early childhood and secondary education as well as primary, demand for schools and teachers is greater than ever, without the resources and facilities to accommodate them.
From 2008 to 2023, ZFDF has built 12 schools, 53 teachers’ houses and a dormitory across 18 communities and constructed 87 toilets for schools to provide clean water and hand washing facilities for both girls and boys. This encourages children, especially girls, to attend school regularly and remain longer in education.
Due to the school infrastructure improvements and teacher training programs, the number of trained teachers has increased from 24 to 153 over the last decade, and pupil numbers have risen from 640 to 8,200.