Zambia Emergency Food Security Assessment

Originally published


Zambia National Vulnerability Assessment Committee in collaboration with the SADC FANR Vulnerability Assessment Committee

This emergency food security assessment is regionally coordinated by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources (FANR) Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC), in collaboration with international partners (WFP, FEWS NET, SC (UK), CARE, FAO, UNICEF, and IFRC). National VACs in each country are a consortium of Government, NGOs, and UN agencies that coordinate the assessments locally. This is the second of a series of rolling food security assessments whose main objective is to monitor and update the food security situation in affected countries throughout the region for the duration of the current food crisis.

These assessments are made possible by individual Government's commitment with its financial and human resources and also with financial and technical support from international partners. The value of such assessment is measured by the quality of information collected and timeliness that this information is made available to Government, donors and all food security stakeholders. The VAC assessments assume a standard regional approach for ease of comparison within the region. The two step-wise processes involved in the assessment are: firstly, the use of a sequential process of 'best -practices' in assessment and monitoring, drawn from the extensive and varied experience of the VAC partners, to meet a broad range of critical information needs at both the spatial and socio-economic targeting levels. The sequential nature of the approach not only provides richer details of the "access side" of the food security equation, but it adds the very important temporal dimension as well. From an operational (i.e. response) perspective, the latter is critical. Secondly, by approaching food security assessment through a coordinated, collaborative process, the strategy integrates the most influential assessment and response players into the ongoing effort, thereby gaining privileged access to national and agency datasets and expert technicians and increases the likelihood of consensus between national Governments, implementing partners, and donors. This 'partnering' strategy links the major players and stakeholders including regional institutions, national Governments, response agencies, NGOs and donors for on-going, intensive 'rolling' assessment coverage of food security conditions on the ground.


  • The total cereal production for 2001/2002 season increased by 0.4% after factoring in production of winter maize. Winter maize production accounted for 7,200 MT representing 1.2% of total maize production.

  • The estimated number of people requiring food assistance stands at 2.77 million. The total food aid requirement was estimated at 132,856MT for the period December to March, 2003.

  • The worst affected areas are parts of Southern, Western and Lusaka Provinces. These areas have more than 75% of the population requiring assistance.

  • The food aid pipeline has been weak. As of end of December only 27.5% of the requirement for the period August to December had been met.

  • There is some relationship between areas with a high percentage of chronically ill and those with a high percentage of population in need of food assistance for Southern, Lusaka and Western Provinces.

  • Generally prices in the most affected areas have continued increasing. In addition maize for purchase is not easily available in these areas.

  • A substantial reduction in crop production in Southern Province is expected as a result of poor rainfall since the start of the 2002/2003 growing season.

  • Survey findings provide evidence of strong linkages between HIV/AIDS and food insecurity in Zambia.

Zambia lies between 8o and 18o south latitudes and 22o and 34o east longitudes and has a population estimated at 9.3 million people with an annual growth rate of 2.3% (CSO, 2000 Census of population).

With an area of 750,000 km2, Zambia has the potential to expand agricultural production. However, it is estimated that only 14% of total agricultural land is currently being utilized. Agriculture generates about 22% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides direct livelihood to more than 50% of the population. The agricultural sector employs 67% of the labor force and it is the main source of income and provides employment for women who make up 65% of the rural population. The sector is currently the main stay of the rural economy

Zambia is one of the countries in the southern Africa sub-region faced with a food crisis attributed to a complex combination of unfavorable weather pattern, poor health standards and unfavorable socio-economic conditions and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. The current crisis has been further compounded by reduced food production in the last two consecutive seasons (2000/2001 and 2001/2002 resulting in the country experiencing a substantial deficits of the staple food.

Whilst weather and other exogenous factors may have limited the sectors' ability to grow, by and large, agricultural policies of the past, imposed limitations on growth prospects. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has also had adverse effect on agricultural production and productivity.

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