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Highlights Last Updated: 29 Jul 2020

  • The COVID-19 situation has deteriorated rapidly in July, with the Ministry of Health reporting a 175 per cent increase, from 1,632 cases on 6 July to 4,481 on 26 July.
  • The number of deaths has quadrupled from 30 deaths on 6 July to 139 deaths as of 26 July, indicating a higher community transmission and severe cases not seeking treatment.
  • Three new districts have confirmed COVID-19 infections, bringing the total to 38 out of 116 districts countrywide.
  • On 21 July, Zambia’s Parliament was forced to adjourn as two Members of Parliament (MPs) died after reportedly testing positive for COVID-19 within the preceding week.
  • Poor compliance by the public to recommended prevention measures, such as use of masks, hand hygiene and limited laboratory testing, remain key challenges to the COVID-19 response.
Handwashing demostration at the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI)


Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, home to more than 17.3 million people. Although the country has experienced sustained economic growth over the past 10 years, almost 56 per cent of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day. The situation is especially concerning in rural zones, where poverty affects 76.6 per cent of the population. Zambia’s chronic poverty, coupled with erratic weather and climate shocks, lead to high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition, poor access to health care, and different protection risks, especially for women and children.
With an agriculture-based economy growing a range of crops including maize, cotton, tobacco and groundnuts, the country has suffered the effects of unpredictable weather patterns over the last decade. Farmers rely on seasonal rains (November to April) and subsistence-style farming is common in the country, especially in the south. The constant variation in seasonal rainfall has been negatively impacting Zambia and its population, hampering food production and leaving those who depend on rainfed agriculture vulnerable and exposed to multiple challenges.
In 2019, prolonged and severe drought in the southern part of the country and floods in the north have hampered food production, especially of maize, which had a reduction of 16 per cent compared to the same period in 2018. More than 2.4 million people are expected to be severely food insecure during the lean season (October 2019 - March 2020), with at least 430,000 of them in Emergency levels (IPC 4), according to the 2019 Zambia Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZVAC) / IPC report

Updated: September 2019