Zambia is at the forefront of Africa's small-scale farmers when it comes to climate-smart agriculture employing reduced tillage.

Facts about Zambia

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Life expectancy
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GNI pr capita
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Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
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The flag for Zambia

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Zambia is a peaceful country with a relatively strongly established democratic tradition. Pressure on both political developments and the economy increased in 2014. There are high levels of poverty and unemployment.

Zambia has 15 million inhabitants (2015) and an annual population growth of just on three per cent. Zambia belongs to the lower­-middle income group of countries, but there is extensive poverty. Foreign aid plays a smaller part than in the past, but is still important to some sectors and population groups. Norway's bilateral aid in 2014 amounted to NOK 196,4 million.

Zambia has enjoyed solid economic growth since 2005, but in 2014 this dipped to below six per cent. The decline is largely due to lower copper prices, a large budget deficit and an unclear economic policy. A number of loan-financed public sector investments have come to a halt. The local currency has depreciated, albeit from a level regarded by many as too high. New, frequently changing mining tax rules have caused a decline in investment and production and a fall in the country's tax revenue.

The health situation is improving, with declining maternal and child mortality. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is falling slowly, and is now about 13 per cent in the adult population. The country has attained the millennium development goal for reducing mother to child transmission. Forty per cent of women marry before they turn 18, and many girls fall pregnant at an early age.

Environmental challenges

Deforestation attributable to the production of charcoal, clearing of new land for agriculture and illegal logging is among the most severe in Africa. Trapping and poaching remain a major problem in and around national parks.

There are signs of climate change that increase the need for agricultural methods that are robust to climate change. Zambia is rich in resources in the form of minerals, water, wild life and biodiversity. These can provide a basis for stronger economic development in agriculture, energy production and tourism, in addition to further development of the mining sector.

Norwegian development cooperation with Zambia

Norwegian aid to Zambia, administered by the embassy in Lusaka, prioritizes agriculture and food security that are robust to climate change, financial and tax management (tax for development), as well as women's rights and gender equality.

Norwegian organizations and educational institutions are also very active. Norfund is involved in hydropower, agriculture and financial institutions.

Climate-smart agriculture and food security

2014 was a good year for Zambian agriculture, with a considerable surplus of maize, which is the staple diet of most inhabitants. Malnutrition is still widespread. Agricultural productivity is low, but modernization is taking place. In particular, interest in climate-smart agriculture with a minimum of soil disturbance is gaining ground, and Zambia is at the forefront of Africa's smallholders in this respect.

The Minister of Agriculture opened the first all-African Congress on Conservation Agriculture in March 2014. Operating through the Norwegian Embassy, Norway donated NOK 75,5 million in assistance for climate-smart agriculture in 2014.

In 2014, the Conservation Farming Unit, CFU, was again the most central partner for Norwegian funding for climate-smart agriculture.

The CFU provided training for about 200.000 farmers (approx. 46 per cent women and 54 per cent men) and for a number of public and private organizations. The number of farmers engaged in conservation agriculture with reduced working of the soil increased in the course of the year to over 200.000 (48 per cent women).

Greater food security

Farmers are gaining greater food security and a higher income. The area under conservation agriculture increased from just over 150.000 hectares, to 228.000 hectares. As climate-smart agriculture results in higher yields, this means increased agricultural revenue.

Work to increase the area under climate-smart cultivation has been intensified on larger farms. Increased income has contributed to greater demand for intermediate goods and provided a stimulus for private-sector suppliers. The number of tractor owners who carry out reduced tillage on assignment passed 300. Because demand is high, a further increase is envisaged.

The CFU and partners in Uganda, Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania together established programmes for climate-smart agriculture. In the course of 2014, the programme led to 36.500 farmers in these countries switching to climate-smart agriculture.

Poaching prevention

Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO), received continued support for its work in connection with the Luangwa Valley National Park. The organization strives to combat poaching and to protect natural resources by promoting alternative sources of income based on sustainable agriculture and other activities. The number of farmers involved increased from 77.000 in 2013 to 107.000 in 2014.

COMACO sold produce for approximately NOK 16 million in 2014. The most important products were peanut butter, muesli, rice, honey , and dried mushrooms and fruit. Some 70 per cent of the households taking part in the programme have achieved satisfactory year-round food security.

Eighty-six persons who abandoned poaching received training in other income-generating activity. A further 253 were registered and will receive such a training later.

A government programme provides smallholders with training in climate-smart agriculture, and coupons for purchasing intermediate products from private companies. This has contributed to local market development. Despite administrative problems in the 2014 programme, 9000 farmers received support to cultivate cassava, sweet potatoes and beans, to give them sources of income other than just maize.

Thousands of farmers who were already in the programme continued to use new, more climate-smart and productive agricultural methods.

Strengthened financial and tax management (tax for development)

Zambian authorities continued the work of reforming public financial management, with particular emphasis on making the Ministry of Finance's budget management and planning more efficient. However, the country has stagnated on Transparency International's corruption index. Tax revenue increased to 27 billion kwacha, one billion more than budgeted.

The Zambian Office of the Auditor General

Norway's support, which is combined with expert assistance from the Norwegian Office of the Auditor General, has helped to strengthen the Zambian Office of the Auditor General (OAG). The main emphasis in 2014 was on performance audits. Some of the results were:

  • The quality of the OAG's audits and audit reports has improved.
  • The attention attracted by the reports has continued to grow, and hearings in the parliamentary control committee are livelier. The efforts of Transparency International Zambia, which also receives Norwegian support, have contributed to this.
  • The number of special audits of mining company revenue increased.
  • The audits cover approximately 84 per cent of government budget spending.
  • The Zambian OAG supports auditor general's offices in other African countries through the  African Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI). The OAG has developed an administrative tool for audits, and in 2014 AFROSAI engaged the OAG to introduce this into the other English-speaking countries in AFROSAI.
  • The OAG's annual report showed a decline in the misappropriation of funds, from the equivalent of NOK 1 billion in 2013 to NOK 267 million in 2014. There was a particular decline in reported problems with public procurement and undocumented expenses.

The Zambian Revenue Authority

Collaboration between the Zambian Revenue Authority (ZRA) and the Norwegian Directorate of Taxes started in 2011, with the emphasis on building up a separate mining unit.

Short missions by specialists from the Norwegian tax authorities, the IMF and the OECD continue to play an important part. In 2014, the staff of the ZRA were able to undertake more and larger tasks, particularly in the mining sector.

The ZRA has introduced new IT systems, primarily for accounting analysis and tax reporting via the Internet. Improved underlying data have made it easier to select companies for more detailed inspections and audits where the risk of embezzlement is greatest. There is increased exchange of information with the tax authorities of other countries.

Tax audits cover corporate tax, royalty on minerals, personal tax, tax on services and value-added tax. The ZRA has also received training on internal pricing, to make it better able to check whether companies set incorrect internal prices in order to cut tax.  The ZRA has revealed such conditions in connection with book audits. A solution to the problem requires the implementation of new rules.

Tax audits with Norwegian support covered 16 mining companies that accounted for 73 per cent of revenue from the mining sector. This resulted in NOK 160 million in back taxes being assessed and paid.

It is suspected that there has been other embezzlement, but it is too early to say how much it will actually be possible to recover. In 2014, the mining sector paid taxes equivalent to 3,7 per cent of Zambia's GDP.

Inspection was gradually extended to include suppliers and financial institutions in the mining industry.

A programme of improved monitoring and control of production, processing and export of copper and other minerals was launched in 2014, with expert support from Statistics Norway.

The programme is important for enabling correct taxes to be collected and for coordinating data and statistics from the mining companies themselves, the customs authorities, the Ministry of Mines and the central bank. Six government institutions have entered into an agreement to cooperate on this work.

The Bank of Zambia - the central bank

The collaborative project with the Zambian central bank started in 2011 with the IMF as project administrator and with a locally-based advisor and experts on short-term visits from Norges Bank. Improved systems for safeguarding financial stability are now in place, including emergency preparedness that covers the central bank and other actors.

The quality of analyses forming the basis for an inflation targeting regime was improved. Oversight of the national payment systems was strengthened. The position of the Bank of Zambia as a central player in the foreign exchange market has also been strengthened.

Work for a more efficient internal administration has commenced, also this with the support of Norges Bank.

Transparency International Zambia

Norway is supporting the work of Transparency International Zambia in the period 2012–2016, with the emphasis on good governance, citizen participation, and sharing and publication of information.

A manual on fighting corruption and promoting transparency in local courts was launched in collaboration with the judicial system. Data were collected for the Bribe Payers Index, and the report was published in early 2015 in cooperation with the Zambian Anti-Corruption Commission.

The organization's complaint and counselling centre received 80 complaints, twice as many as the previous year. Work on transparency and integrity in the health service increased the people of Zambia's knowledge of their right to health services and led to a dialogue between users and service suppliers on services and quality.

Gender equality and women's and children's rights

Zambia's government argues for gender equality and women's rights, but changes in attitudes and practices take time. It is proposed in a draft new constitution that discrimination against women in traditional legislation be eliminated. Campaigns and interventions against violence targeting women continue, and there is a growing focus on preventing marriage and pregnancy among young girls.

Coordinating body for women's organizations

In 2014, Norwegian aid to the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) helped to boost the work of several key countrywide women's organizations and more than 100 local organizations.

The NGOCC mediated support to 71 grass-root organizations, which received 68 per cent of the total Norwegian funding. Results were achieved in four areas in particular of those focused on by the network:

  • Some 2 000 women took part in the network organizations' activities for increased food security and income basis.
  • The NGOCC was prompt to support the only women presidential candidate who stood for election in January 2015. The network's women's groups around the country are aware that women can also run for president and assume leading positions. The woman candidate ended up in third place, admittedly with less than one per cent of the votes. The network has been pivotal in the struggle for women's rights in the new constitution. The proposal that national legal practice take precedence over customary legal practice is particularly important. The network has also had a key role in stopping a proposed new law on non-governmental organizations. The draft act has been put on hold.
  • The NGOCC held the first national conference on sexual and reproductive health and is now working on a plan to hold it in more parts of the country.
  • The NGOCC launched a manual in English and seven local languages on how to reduce violence against women, and how girls and women can report such violence. The manual has been made known to about 2000 people in two provinces.

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Norad supports a number of Norwegian NGOs that have Zambian partners. Funding in 2014 amounted to a total of NOK 56,8 million, and covers a wide range of activities. The strongest focus is on capacity building, including democratization and human rights work.

Funding is also provided for education, health, social infrastructure, food security and agriculture. The chief Norwegian actors are Norwegian Church Aid, the Atlas Alliance, the Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund (SAIH), SOS Children's Villages, Caritas Norway, Plan Norway, Lions' Aid Norway, the Norwegian Confederation of Sport and Oikos – Organic Norway.

Some of the results were:

  • Through Oikos' eco-agricultural project, about 8000 farmers, more than half of them women, have received training and practical follow-up in ecological cultivation. Their crop yields and income have increased but their costs have remained the same.
  • Oikos has contributed to the integration of ecological farming into the syllabuses of all food production, agricultural and forestry students at bachelor level. Teachers in lower secondary school take courses in ecological agriculture, and agriculture is a separate subject at lower secondary school level in Zambia.
  • Plan Norway has worked for a greater focus on violence against children. The use of mobile legal offices providing legal aid has contributed to securing evidence in sexual abuse cases. Neglect, gender-based violence and disturbances of the peace were also reported to these mobile offices. The lawyers contributed in the form of counselling for victims and arranged for arrests to be made.

Caritas Norway assisted the people in the dioceses of Ndola and Solwezi in reporting mining companies for pollution and complaints about associated health problems.

Published 28.08.2014
Last updated 02.10.2015