Skip to main content

Country analysis

Zambia


More than 1.58 million people (17% of the assessed population) in Zambia faced acute food insecurity levels – Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse – between August–September 2023. Floods, a locust infestation, high food prices, and declining livelihood opportunities resulting from COVID-19 impacts have been intensifying the food security crisis since 2019. Previous droughts, especially in 2015–2016 and 2017–2018, have increased people’s vulnerability to food shortages. Households experiencing significant food consumption gaps resort to coping mechanisms with possibly negative consequences, such as charcoal production and the selling of livelihood assets (cattle, goats, pigs, and land), to meet their minimum food needs.

Food insecurity is projected to worsen between October 2023 and March 2024, with food commodity prices remaining higher than the five-year average, decreased job opportunities, the impact of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and the forecasted delayed onset of rains because of El Niño. Over two million people (23% of the population analysed) are likely to face IPC 3 or worse acute food insecurity levels.

In October 2023, a cholera outbreak was declared in Lusaka, leading to a surge in infections and fatalities countrywide.

(IPC 13/11/2023, FEWS NET accessed 07/02/2024, Reuters 08/09/2016, IFRC 25/01/2023, WHO 27/01/2024)

More than 1.58 million people (17% of the assessed population) in Zambia faced acute food insecurity levels – Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse – between August–September 2023. Floods, a locust infestation, high food prices, and declining livelihood opportunities resulting from COVID-19 impacts have been intensifying the food security crisis since 2019. Previous droughts, especially in 2015–2016 and 2017–2018, have increased people’s vulnerability to food shortages. Households experiencing significant food consumption gaps resort to coping mechanisms with possibly negative consequences, such as charcoal production and the selling of livelihood assets (cattle, goats, pigs, and land), to meet their minimum food needs.

Food insecurity is projected to worsen between October 2023 and March 2024, with food commodity prices remaining higher than the five-year average, decreased job opportunities, the impact of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and the forecasted delayed onset of rains because of El Niño. Over two million people (23% of the population analysed) are likely to face IPC 3 or worse acute food insecurity levels.

In October 2023, a cholera outbreak was declared in Lusaka, leading to a surge in infections and fatalities countrywide.

(IPC 13/11/2023, FEWS NET accessed 07/02/2024, Reuters 08/09/2016, IFRC 25/01/2023, WHO 27/01/2024)

Latest updates on country situation

05 March 2024

On 29 February 2024, Zambia's President Hakainde Hichilema declared the current drought a national disaster resulting from the impact of El Niño on the country's 2023–2024 rainy season. About six million people in 84 of the country’s 116 districts in Central, Copperbelt, Eastern, Lusaka, North-Western, Southern, and Western provinces have been affected. (UNICEF 04/03/2024, The Maravi Post 05/03/2024)

01 February 2024

Since its declaration in Lusaka in October 2023, the cholera outbreak in Zambia has escalated into a severe public health emergency. As at 26 January 2024, the outbreak had affected all ten provinces of the country, with 14,900 reported cases and 560 deaths, creating a case fatality rate of 3.8%. (WHO 27/01/2024, BBC 31/01/2024)

10 January 2024

Since January 2023, Zambia has been experiencing a cholera outbreak, with a new outbreak reported in Lusaka in October. As at 11 January 2024, a cumulative 8,276 cases and 333 deaths had been recorded, with Lusaka having 94% of confirmed cases and 97% of deaths. The outbreak has spread to 39 districts in nine of ten provinces. (Zambian MOH 14/12/2023, ECHO 12/01/2024)

13 November 2023

According to IPC projections, food security is expected to worsen between October 2023 and March 2024. Food insecurity is driven by food commodity prices that are expected to remain higher than the five-year average, a decrease in job opportunities, the impacts of the ongoing Ukraine/Russia conflict, and the delayed onset of rains due to the El Niño phenomena. Approximately 2.04 million people (23% of the population assessed) will face acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 and above). The number of districts anticipated to face IPC Phase 3 food insecurity is expected to increase to 67 from 45 in the August-September period. The western and southern as well as parts of the eastern provinces are likely to be the most affected due to preexisting food, water, and pasture shortages. Food insecure households require food and cash support, increased access to income, and improved dietary choices.
(IPC 13/11/2023)

current crises
in Zambia


These crises have been identified through the INFORM Severity Index, a tool for measuring and comparing the severity of humanitarian crises globally.

Read more about the Index

REG012 - Southern Africa Regional Food Security Crisis

Last updated 30/04/2024


Drivers


Crisis level

Regional

Severity level

3.9 High

Access constraints

4.0

ZMB002 - Drought

Last updated 30/04/2024


Drivers

Drought

Crisis level

Country

Severity level

3.3 High

Access constraints

1.0

Analysis products
on Zambia

Southern Africa: Impact of El Niño in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

06 May 2024

Southern Africa: Impact of El Niño in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

DOCUMENT / PDF / 1 MB

This report provides an overview of the climate effects (temperature and precipitation anomalies) and consequent humanitarian impact of the El Niño phenomenon in Southern Africa

Natural hazards
Zambia: impact of drought

15 March 2024

Zambia: impact of drought

DOCUMENT / PDF / 509 KB

On 29 February 2024, Zambia declared a national emergency as a result of a prolonged drought. As at 1 March, the drought was affecting 84 of the 116 districts across Zambia’s Central, Copperbelt, Eastern, Lusaka, Northwestern, Southern, and Western provinces. Climate change and El Niño are driving such drought conditions.

Natural hazards
Zambia: drought in the Southern province

11 July 2019

Zambia: drought in the Southern province

DOCUMENT / PDF / 493 KB

Zambia is currently experiencing a prolonged drought largely as a result of below-average precipitation from the seasonal rains (November-March). The significant rainfall deficit, especially noticeable in Southern and Western provinces, has resulted in decreased agricultural production. Consequently, households are sharply depleting food stocks and are increasingly dependent on market purchases, driving up the prices of staple foods such as maize.

Natural hazards
Zambia:Influx of refugees from DRC

13 October 2017

Zambia:Influx of refugees from DRC

DOCUMENT / PDF / 307 KB

Over 3,360 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo fled into Zambia between 30 August and 3 October 2017. The refugees have been fleeing inter-ethnic conflicts as well as clashes between government forces and armed militias in Haut-Katanga province. Several of them have reported extreme brutality committed by all parties against civilians. 

Mixed migration
View more