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Highlights Last Updated: 09 Dec 2020

  • The Ministry of Health has confirmed 17,916 COVID-19 cases and 364 deaths as of 7 December.
  • The number of districts reporting COVID-19 infections had increased from 68 in September to 96, as of 30 November.
  • Education partners report that 16 per cent of nearly 39,000 learners in Eastern and Southern provinces have dropped a reading level during COVID-19 school closures..
  • The food security situation remains of major concern, amid a infestation of the African Migratory Locusts in 14 districts across Central, Southern and Western provinces.
  • Nearly 2 million people are facing severe food insecurity between October 2020 and March 2021, despite increased crop production in most areas.
Lusaka Market
Community sensitization on COVID-19 in Chawama Market in Lusaka. Photo: ©UNICEF/Mulikita


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