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Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance

Prior to Zambia's 2016 National Elections, with support from USAID, Martin Luther King III was in Lusaka
Prior to Zambia's 2016 National Elections, with support from USAID, Martin Luther King III was in Lusaka at the invitation of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) taking part in various programs promoting peaceful elections.
Photo: Chando Mapoma / USAID Zambia

With a long history of democratic governance and peaceful transitions of power, Zambia has a strong foundation on which to build accountable and responsive systems of governance that advance the nation’s long-term development priorities. However, limited government capacity and political will, public-sector mismanagement and endemic corruption, as well as more recent trends including selective use of law and regulation by government against voices and institutions critical of it, threaten this potential opportunity.

Establishing democratic, citizen-centered governance is an indispensable requisite for countries seeking a sustainable, self-reliant development path.  USAID supports Zambia’s democratic traditions and promotes citizen-responsive governance by strengthening civil society and citizen participation, advancing respect for human rights, promoting free and fair elections, and improving accountability, efficiency, and transparency in the delivery of public services. USAID works with the government and people of Zambia to build and sustain a democratic, well-governed, and accountable state that can respond to the needs of its growing population.

USAID’s programs empower the voices of marginalized Zambians - particularly women and youth - and shape the role of civil society in governance.  This approach ensures that leaders benefit from the views of more constituents so that together, Zambians can advance priorities in health, education, and economic development while protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of all citizens.

In Zambia, USAID democracy, human rights, and governance assistance focuses on the following:

Promoting Inclusive Political Participation

During national elections in 2015 and 2016, USAID joined with other donor nations and the Electoral Commission of Zambia to enable efficient and transparent voting and vote tallying.  Between election cycles, USAID invests in Zambian efforts to empower women and youth in politics, protect freedom of assembly, and encourage constructive dialogue across political lines on critical issues of national development.

Advancing Citizen and Government Engagement

USAID encourages and supports stronger citizen participation and more responsive governance.  Our activities help citizens engage productively with government institutions on public services, strengthen strategic partnerships with civil-society organizations, and bridge the gap between citizens and legislators.  This support amplifies the voices of Zambian citizens and encourages government to be more accountable, responsive, and self-reliant in the delivery of health care and education.

Supporting Human Rights Champions

USAID’s support to the Zambia Human Rights Commission (HRC) promotes fair and unbiased application of Zambia’s Public Order Act to protect peaceful assembly and expression of citizen’s voices. To help achieve this, citizen’s rights and government responsibilities are highlighted during public fora, and through direct engagement with government officials.

USAID also supports the promotion of human rights by strengthening the case-management system of the HRC. Improved case management of issues relating to human rights positively contributes to the realization of human rights for all.

Fostering Youth Leadership

USAID invests in youth leadership development through training and support for emerging young leaders. In collaboration with the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and USAID-funded Youth Lead Zambia program, young people are empowered through skills-training internships, and mentorship and grants in entrepreneurship, civic engagement and public management.  Through these strategies, USAID helps to foster a new generation of civic-minded Zambian leaders.

Current USAID Democracy, Human Rights, AND Governance activities in Zambia


Last updated: May 20, 2020

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