Extreme rural poverty is perhaps the greatest challenge facing Zambia today. A staggering 61 percent of Zambians live below the national poverty line, many in isolated rural areas. Poverty in Zambia causes a range of harmful social conditions, including low literacy rates, few employment opportunities and little access to good sanitation and healthcare, all of which keep people mired in poverty. In fact, more than one-third of Zambians don’t have access to clean water.
The country has a few highly urbanized areas, where about half of its citizens live. Zambia is a large exporter of copper, so strong national economic performance there masks the severity of poverty in Zambia. Despite being more developed than many sub-Saharan African nations, the country still experiences significant unemployment that leaves many families who live outside of these urban areas mired in poverty.
Zambia is a relatively peaceful country: It is not controlled by a dictator and has not seen much infighting in recent years. Due to its peaceful nature and lack of headlines, Zambia is often left out of conversations about poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.
Despite the nation’s status as a stable democratic republic, poverty levels in Zambia, especially in rural areas, are some of the highest among African nations. ChildFund’s efforts in Zambia focus on establishing Early Childhood Development centers to teach Zambian mothers and caregivers strong parenting skills needed to give their children the best start possible. We also advocate children’s rights and child protection.