A large landlocked country with a highly urbanised population, Zambia’s economy is still based on mining and agriculture. After the economic stagnation of the 1990s, growth has accelerated – largely due to the rapid expansion of mining - mostly copper. However, the overall good performance of the economy (5.7% growth average over 2002-2012) has not translated into any significant drop in poverty and the level of income disparity is one of the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The proportion of the population who lived below the poverty line in 2010 was 60.5% compared to 62.8% in 2006. The rural population of Zambia (two thirds of Zambians) remains predominantly poor with overall poverty levels at 77.9% as compared to their urban counterparts at 27.5% in 2010 (Living Conditions Monitoring Survey Report 2006-2010, Republic of Zambia Central Statistical Office).

Although the country is on track, to achieve at least five Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets by 2015, maternal, under-five mortality and life expectancy are worse than the African low-income countries average. One in three Zambians is not meeting basic food needs, and 45% of children under five years of age are stunted (Zambia National Food and Nutrition Strategic Plan 2011-2015).

So far EU support to Zambia was able to deliver the following achievements:

  • Stronger foundations for growth: EU funding for transport and regional integration in Zambia amount to approximately €200 million (2001 to 2013). EU transport programmes have contributed to improved road and air transport in Zambia. For example, the road Zimba to Livingston was rehabilitated with EU funds and the EU is working on helping Zambia to improve air safety. In January 2013, Zambia successfully resolved its Significant Safety Concern on air safety, taking a big step towards removing Zambia from the International Civil Aviation Organization´s Safety Watch list and from the EU Ban List.
  • Greener growth: The EU is one of Zambia´s supporters of conservation agriculture, a more productive and environmentally friendly farming method increasingly adopted by Zambian smallholders. In recent years, EU support has contributed to expanding the number of Zambian farmers practising conservation agriculture, and its support in this area is worth approximately €30 million between 2009 and 2014.
  • Progress towards a more democratic society: The EU was an important contributor to the success of Zambia's 2011 Presidential elections. Its support programme to elections and to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and Department for National Registration, Passports and Citizenship (DNRPC) was implemented through a multidonor trust fund.
  • More transparency: Zambia is making some progress in the fight against corruption, with an improvement in its ranking on the Corruption Perception Index (from 115th rank in 2008 to the 83rd rank in 2013). Also, Zambia – with among others EU support – became the first country in the East African region and the 15th country in the world to become EITI compliant. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) aims at enhancing revenue transparency and accountability in resource-rich countries through establishing a reporting regime on tax payments by extractive companies to Governments.

EU cooperation  addresses the challenges identified in the 2013 Revised Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP, 2013-2016), which aims “to accelerate growth further and make it more relevant to improving the livelihood of the Zambian people, especially in the rural areas”. The National Indicative Programme for Zambia for the period 2014-2020 under the 11th European Development Fund totals an amount of €484 million in programmable fundsis and  is aligned to the Government's priorities around three focal sectors:

  • Energy – 'Improved access to clean, reliable and affordable energy'
  • Agriculture – 'Reduced rural poverty and improved livelihoods'
  • Governance – 'Advanced democratic governance, accountability and state effectiveness for all'

The EU adopted its 2015 Annual Action Plan for Zambia (AAP) in June and its Annexes. The AAP covers three actions with the following respective objectives:

  • Inclusive, agriculture-led economic growth by helping the smallholder farming sector in a successful transition from low productivity, subsistence-based agriculture to more profitable, market-oriented production systems;
  • Reduce rural poverty and enhance food and nutrition security; and
  • Democratic governance, accountability and state effectiveness.

The EU has also adopted a measure to strengthen the electoral process in Zambia and corresponding Action Fiche.

The EU adopted its 2014 Annual Action Plan in December last year and corresponding Annex. The purpose of the action is to support the Zambezi River Authority in carrying out the Kariba hydropower plant safety rehabilitation over the next six years.

Under the 10th EDF the main areas of assistance were the following:

  • Regional integration and transport infrastructure;
  • Governance; and
  • Human development, in particular health.

Additional support was targeted to agricultural development and food security, trade-related issues and non-state actors. The Country Strategy Paper for Zambia (2008-13) details the priorities for the use of €489.8 million of funding allocated under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).



Key country statistics

  • Total population (2015): 16 212 000
  • Life expectancy (at birth) (2015): 57 years (male), 60 years (female)
  • Human Development Index - Medium human development (2014): 0.586
  • Population living below $1.90 a day (2010): 64.4%
  • Income share held by lowest 40% of income distribution (2010): 10.6%
  • Lower middle income country - Gross National Income per capita (2013): 957 US$ (constant 2005 US$)
  • Average Gross Domestic Product growth over 5 years (2009-2013): 7.9%

Selected results achieved with EU support through projects and programmes completed between mid-2014 and mid-2015

Good Governance and Human Rights

  • 86% of eligible voters have been captured on election roll in preparation of the 2011 general elections and facilitated by mobile voter registration kits (up from 71% in 2006)
  • All polling stations at the 2011 general elections were covered by Civil Society Organisations accredited election monitors (up from 89% in 2006)
  • The general elections in 2011 were declared free and fair while acknowledging that further improvements could be made to strengthen the electoral system


  • In 2012, 51% of births have been delivered in health institutions (up from 45% in 2008) through budget support

Water and Sanitation

  • In 2012, 80% of urban population had access to safe water (up from 74% in 2010) through budget support
  • In 2012, 65% of rural population had access to safe water (up from 57% in 2010) through budget support

Inclusive Growth and poverty reduction

  • 45 000 households received social cash transfers between 2010 and 2012 through budget support

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