USAID/Zambia Country Profile

Speeches Shim

For the decade ending in 2011, Zambia was one of the world’s fastest growing economies and achieved lower-middle income nation status. Since 2011, Zambia’s economic development has consistently declined and it is currently ranked fourth in the world in income inequality
Other challenges also hinder Zambia’s development progress including a lack of political and economic diversification, low primary education outcomes, high external debt, a degradation of natural resources, and a heavy disease burden. Through USAID, the U.S. Government is committed to supporting Zambia on its path to address these and other challenges. 
With a vibrant youth population and engaged private sector and civil society, Zambia has the potential to build upon the advances made in early-grade education and literacy, and once again serve as a beacon of sub-Saharan democracy with an engaged citizenry and improved sub-national governance and private sector-led growth and development.


USAID believes that the purpose of foreign assistance is to end the need for its existence. With a staff of over 100 professionals managing investments of over $341 million annually, we partner with the Zambian government, civil society and private sector to advance good governance, enterprise-driven economic growth, and increase resilience among its vulnerable citizens. 

USAID assistance in Zambia focuses on: (1) effective, citizen-responsive governance; (2) rural poverty reduction and sustainable natural resource management; (3) utilization of quality health, water and sanitation, and social protection services; and (4) primary education quality.


In line with the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future (FTF) Initiative, USAID works to: improve agricultural production and markets, and develop new opportunities for security and prosperity; strengthen the resilience of communities to both natural and man-made shocks; and reduce hunger and improve nutrition, especially among mothers and children. The initial FTF programs demonstrated admirable progress in reducing extreme poverty from 88 percent to 75 percent in its target zone from 2012 to 2017 and it continues this vital poverty reduction focus.

Our projects utilize a market-driven approach to attract investment and build local capacity within the agribusiness sector. USAID also focuses on improving the business enabling environment through policy improvements, and strengthening rural agricultural enterprises to increase jobs, incomes and profits through private sector investments and a holistic value-chain approach. 


Zambia’s political distribution of power is increasingly inequitable, limiting political and economic power to elites and reflecting underlying societal, economic, and political discord which is further disrupted by a high public debt burden. Despite these challenges, there are important opportunities for democratic governance and fiscal reforms. 

USAID partners with the government and people of Zambia to build and sustain a democratic, well-governed, and accountable state that responds to the needs of its growing population. We support Zambia’s democratic traditions and promote social and political stability by strengthening citizen participation and governance structures; advancing human rights; promoting free and fair elections; and improving accountability, efficiency, and transparency in public financial and domestic revenue generation systems. 


An educated Zambian citizenry results in a healthy, economically productive, civically engaged, and self-reliant Zambia, and reading is the single-most critical foundational skill that determines all future learning. 

Despite incremental gains in learning achievement, education assessments in Zambia reveal approximately 10 percent of children are able to read at grade level by the end of Grade 2. In partnership, USAID programs integrate sustainable improvements to strengthen Zambia’s education system to deliver quality primary education and, consequently, improve Zambian lives.

USAID Education programs support national-level reforms related to the implementation of the primary literacy curriculum, development of teaching and learning materials for pre-primary school through Grade 3, pre-service teacher education, and national literacy assessments. USAID Education programs also support focused initiatives to strengthen literacy performance for children in pre-primary through Grade 3, and remedial instruction up to Grade 5, in over half of Zambia’s primary and community schools.


With over 40 percent of Southern Africa’s fresh water, an abundance of arable land, and approximately 50 million hectares of intact forest, Zambia possesses a valuable resource base for the country and the region. Unfortunately, continued economic hardships and growing income inequality forces rural communities to degrade their natural resources to survive. 

USAID recognizes this challenging situation for communities and works to develop sustainable, alternative livelihoods, working alongside our private sector partners to develop jobs and reduce demand for illicit goods, such as illegal charcoal and bushmeat. 

Continuing our partnership with the Zambian government, USAID is building local capacity to manage resources, protect their assets, and place communities in the driver’s seat of managing the forests and wildlife that they are so intimately tied to. 


By improving health outcomes and meeting critical needs of vulnerable populations, USAID programs aim to improve morbidity and mortality rates. Through our partnerships, we strengthen the public health system at national, provincial, district, and community levels. In cooperation with Zambia’s Ministry of Health and other partners, we improve healthcare quality and access to care, change attitudes and behaviors, and provide critical medicines and commodities, specifically in maternal and child health, nutrition, family planning and the prevention and treatment of diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. 

Through USAID partnerships, Zambia’s health care systems have been significantly strengthened, the nation now has over 1.1 million people on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment, achieving  progress in HIV epidemic control. USAID/Zambia implements HIV and malaria programming through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, respectively. Since 2020, we have also supported programs for the prevention, treatment and systems strengthening for the COVID-19 response. 

Through Government-to-Government mechanisms, we enable the Zambian government to decentralize health service delivery by strengthening capacity in Central, Copperbelt, Luapula and Northern provinces.


USAID is the world's premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID's work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience. USAID leads international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance and help people progress beyond assistance.

U.S. foreign assistance has always had the twofold purpose of furthering America's interests while improving lives in the developing world. USAID carries out U.S. foreign policy by promoting broad-scale human progress at the same time it expands stable, free societies, creates markets and trade partners for the United States, and fosters good will abroad.

USAID works in over 100 countries to:

  • Promote Global Health
  • Support Global Stability
  • Provide Humanitarian Assistance
  • Catalyze Innovation and Partnership
  • Empower Women and Girls
Issuing Country 
Wednesday, May 5, 2021 - 3:00am

Last updated: May 05, 2021