Learn more about specific causes in Zambia that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentDeforestation, air and water pollution, and illegal wildlife poaching have all strained the environment.1 The growing mining industry is increasingly accused of being a major contributor to air and water pollution. Streams and groundwater near mines become polluted by toxic chemicals, negatively affecting water used for drinking and agriculture. 2 Over the past four decades, there has been a marked increase in floods and droughts. In recent years, low rainfall levels depleted Lake Kariba, the country’s largest water and power source. As a result, people have experienced intermittent blackouts and loss of electricity.3
FamilyThe extended family is the main domestic unit in Zambia, and children are raised collectively by siblings and other family members. Marriages typically involve a marriage negotiator and an exchange of goods or money for the bride.1 Zambia also has one of the highest rates of child marriage of all African countries at 42%. Child marriage affects both boys and girls, and often occurs between two teenagers marrying before the legal age of 18. Poverty is the driving factor in almost all child marriages, as it can be seen as an opportunity for the family to benefit economically.2
Human RightsThe biggest human rights concerns in Zambia are related to political corruption. There were many reports of abuse by police, including unlawful killings and torture, and government restrictions on freedom of speech. Members of the government’s ruling party also receive impunity for crimes either by avoiding conviction or serving less severe sentences.1 Exploitation of workers has also been reported, particularly in the mining industry, where workers labor in dangerous conditions and face threats from their superiors.2
Education13% of children in Zambia never attend school, and 44% of those enrolled in primary school do not finish.1 School desertion, underfunding, lack of resources, and teacher shortages continue to cripple the Zambian education system, despite efforts to reform and improve it in recent years.2 Basic education was made free of charge in the country in 2002 when the investment sector was financing improvements to the education system. However, the overall budget for primary and secondary schools remains too low and causes inefficiencies and a high dropout rate.3 Zambia’s adult literacy rate is still low at 61.4%.4 In 2017, the Ministry of Education distributed new curriculum in seven local languages to over 200 schools, increasing the amount of students who could have access to education.5 Read More Show Less
PovertyPoverty is a serious and pressing concern that is seen as both a result and cause of instability, unemployment, and health risks in Zambia. It is estimated that 65% of the total population lives on less than $2 per day.1 Poverty is at its worst in rural areas, where 83% of the population is estimated to live below the poverty line. The poorest citizens are women, children, and those infected with HIV/AIDS or malaria. Poverty also exacerbates malnutrition and lack of healthcare, as more than 350,000 people do not have access to a consistent food supply.2
ReligionZambia officially declared itself a Christian nation in 1991.1 Other religions are free to practice, provided that they register with the government.2 Reports of religious discrimination or conflict are rare.3
Clean WaterOver 5 million people do not have access to clean water, and 8 million do not have access to any sanitation facilities. The lack of access to potable water is a major health concern in terms of the spread of infectious and sanitation-related diseases. Moreover, insufficient water access perpetuates cycles of poverty and exacerbates economic and political stability in Zambia. As a result over 5,000 Zambian children lose their lives to diarrheal diseases and cholera every year.1
EconomyIn 2015, the economy experienced its biggest downturn in over a decade. A combination of plummeting prices for its copper exports, decreased demand for commodities from China, and bad agricultural conditions all decreased the value of Zambian currency.1 The agricultural sector comprises roughly 85% of the workforce, which makes the economy vulnerable to distortions in agricultural markets.2 The country is rich in natural resources—its mining industry accounts for 70% of its export value. However, a lack of transparency and accountability in the mining sector currently limits further potential for economic growth.3 A large unskilled labor force also limits the country’s opportunities for entrepreneurial growth.1
GovernmentZambia’s government is known for high levels of corruption including bribery, extortion, and crime. Although people technically have freedom of speech and press, the government is known to restrict independent news sources. Corruption in the police force is also common.1 Not only is corruption inhibiting the country from growing economically and meeting the needs of its citizens, it is also causing international actors to withdraw support from Zambia. Although the aid is withdrawn with the intent of showing disapproval of the government’s actions, it actually ends up hurting the members of the poor population who depend on the aid. 2
HealthMany pressing health concerns in Zambia are attributable to high poverty rates, pollution, and contamination. The health care system in Zambia suffers from chronic underfunding, staff shortages, lack of supplies, and inadequate facilities.1 The main communicable diseases plaguing society are malaria, HIV AIDS, and TB.2 Other preventable illnesses such as diarrhea are caused by a lack of clean water, sanitation facilities, and proper nutrition.3
ChildrenOver 45% of the Zambian population is between ages 0-14.1 The AIDS epidemic has created a generation distinguished by its orphans, as 600,000 Zambian children have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related causes. Approximately 95,000 people with AIDS are under the age of 14. Many children suffer from malnutrition, often as a result of have undernourished mothers.2 Child marriage is another concern facing children, as these situations can lead to abuse, commercial sexual exploitation, and enslavement. Zambia has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 42% of girls entering into marriage before age 18. Most often, child marriages occur in impoverished areas where children are desperate to escape their economic situations.3 With Zambia’s poverty level being as high as Read More 80% in rural areas, many children go hungry or are forced into child labor since their parents cannot afford to feed them.2 Show Less
AnimalsLions, elephants, hippos, leopards, and zebras, among other animals, inhabit the grasslands and savanna. Many of these animals are at risk of being poached and exploited through tourism, especially elephants.1 South Luangwa National Park is one of the biggest wildlife preserves in Africa and is home to hundreds of species of birds and animals.2
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