Elections in Zambia

Election officials counting votes after the presidential election in Zambia in January 2015. Sweden contributed with observers and trainings for election officials and functionaries.

Photo: Eva Atterlöv Frisell


Our work in Zambia

Updated: 3 September 2014

The overall objective for Swedish development cooperation with Zambia is to contribute to sustainable growth with a focus on poor people's ability to earn a living. Another goal is to improve women’s and children’s basic health. Development cooperation should also help to further reduce the country's dependence on aid and make the economic growth sustainable.

A new results strategy for the country is effective from 2013 with women, children, youth and entrepreneurs as the main target groups, and with a focus on results in the following areas:

1. improved health.
2. better job opportunities in rural and peri-urban areas as well as improved opportunities to start up and run productive enterprises.
3. strengthened democratic accountability and transparency, and increased knowledge about human rights.

Sweden and Zambia have worked together since the 60s, leading to many positive results and strong relations between our countries. Recent years’ cooperation with Zambia has primarily focused on health, energy, agriculture and support to civil society. By including energy and agriculture issues in the more all-embracing new area (2), the cooperation is broadened beyond these two sectors , providing more opportunities to reach the goal of improving the livelihoods in the rural areas.

Improved health

Health care in Zambia is facing major challenges in both primary and secondary care. Lack of trained health personnel, limited access to and knowledge of sexual and reproductive rights and services, and high malnutrition among pregnant women and children are some of the problem areas. Contributing to the improvement of women’s and children's basic health and safety in rural areas is an important task for Swedish development assistance. This work is based upon the Zambian government's National Health Strategic Plan 2011-2015. We also support various system improvements. One example is Sweden's leadership and expertise in strengthening governance, transparency and accountability, and combating corruption in the Ministry of Health. These efforts have been crucial to the progress made in delivering health care.

Sweden is launching a collaboration to improve the nutritional intake for 47 000 children under the age of five and to reach out with information to young women and men about sexual and reproductive rights. The objective is also that Sweden should contribute to trained staff assisting some 38 000 deliveries.

Rural development and entrepreneurship

Lack of investment in the power industry is hampering economic development in Zambia and disfavoring the poor. In rural areas, only about 4.5 percent of households have access to electricity and most people use firewood or charcoal to cater for their energy needs, resulting in negative climate and environmental effects.

We support the work for further developments in sustainable energy supply in order to create job opportunities and improve living conditions, especially for the rural poor.

Lack of access to financial services and to clean and renewable energy also reduce the opportunities for business and livelihood. Among other things, Sweden aims to contribute to at least 30,000 small-scale farmers getting access to financial services by 2017.

In order to reach a broad growth in the country, there is a need for better conditions for the country's small-scale farmers, since agriculture is the sector that employs most people. The development of agriculture is limited by poorly functioning market systems, e.g. inefficient value chains and limited access to markets, technology, capacity building and financial services. One-sided and misallocated subsidies are outcompeting business stakeholders, and partly hampering the necessary diversification of agriculture into more types of crops.

The main focus for Sweden's cooperation is to work catalytically with business stakeholders to remove barriers for companies to reach out to e.g. small-scale farmers with input commodities or with financial services, trade with them, create more jobs etc. The current cooperation proves the opportunity to promote inclusive growth by partnering with businesses, despite the many challenges in the country.

In parallel with this approach, Sweden provides support to accountability, participation and domestic debate about agricultural policy. Sweden's support has e.g. contributed to increased knowledge and debate about the effects that subsidy programs have on the purchase of corn, and the need for a reform of the programs. Support to Zambia National Farmers Union is another example where the support has contributed to increased participation and accountability in the sector; the number of members in the organisation increased by 70 per cent between 2010 and 2012.

Democracy, accountability and human rights

Strong democratic institutions, accountability, transparency, participation and reduced corruption are all necessary for an inclusive growth and for poor people to improve their living conditions. Domestic accountability and responsible use of Zambian resources are particularly important.

Sweden's support for increased transparency and reduced corruption in public administration is primarily used for the strengthening of domestic accountability through civil society and supporting the development of a free and independent media. One result of this support is that many organisations around the country have increased their accountability and participation in national and local political processes, such as the constitutional process.

Page owner: Department for Africa

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