Over the last decade, Zambia has emerged as one of the fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa. On the backs of gains in the construction, transport, communications, manufacturing and agriculture sectors, the Zambian economy is expected to grow by 7.3 percent in 2012, up from 6.8 percent in 2011. In 2011, the World Bank reclassified Zambia as a lower middle-income country.


Yet following a period of prolonged economic expansion, Zambia continues to rank among the poorest countries in the world. In its 2011 Human Development Index, the U.N. Development Program placed Zambia 164th out of 187 countries. The Zambian government’s Sixth National Development Plan (2011-2015) acknowledged that recent economic growth has not translated into significant poverty reduction in the southern African nation. According to the UNDP, Zambia has recorded mixed progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.


In its 2011-2015 country development cooperation strategy for Zambia, the U.S. Agency for International Development reaffirms Washington’s development partnership with Lusaka. The document states that the overarching goal of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s programming in Zambia is to achieve an inclusive prosperity for Zambians by 2030. According to USAID, its programming in Zambia is directly aligned with Lusaka’s Sixth National Development Plan while also supporting U.S. foreign assistance priorities.


Funding levels


For fiscal 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama has requested $380 million in U.S. foreign assistance to Zambia, 3 percent above fiscal 2012 levels. The United States is Zambia’s largest bilateral donor. 



In 2011, USAID delivered 61 percent of U.S. official development assistance to Zambia while 28 percent was channeled through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Funding priorities (fiscal 2013 request)



For fiscal 2013, the health sector is slated to garner 94 percent of U.S. foreign aid to Zambia. USAID Zambia manages programming for each of the U.S. government’s core global health assistance initiatives: the Global Health Initiative, President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and President’s Malaria Initiative.


Through 2015, USAID’s health programming in Zambia aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Improving health service delivery: activities will focus on increasing access to health services, upgrade services quality and enhance utilization of clinical services.
  • Strengthening health systems and accountability: activities will focus on improving human resource capacity and management, drug logistics, monitoring systems, and capacity to conduct research and develop new interventions.
  • Improving community health practices: activities will focus on orphans and vulnerable children to ensure their inclusion within the health care system, and essential nutrition actions designed to improve nutrition at key stages in childhood development.


Over the next three years, USAID Zambia anticipates that many of its health activities will be national in geographic scope.  Target beneficiaries in USAID Zambia’s health programming include pregnant women, children, adolescent males and females, and adult males and females.


Zambia is also a focus country for Feed the Future, the Obama administration’s food security initiative which emphasizes country-led agricultural development.  In a bid to reduce rural poverty, USAID Zambia is prioritizing Feed the Future activities which improve the productivity of smallholder farmers. Through 2015, USAID anticipates that Feed the Future programming in the southern African country will focus on the Eastern Province and several contiguous districts, as well as in areas surrounding Lusaka.


Devex analysis


Underpinned by strong ties between Washington and Lusaka, USAID’s bilateral program in Zambia is one of its largest in sub-Saharan Africa. For fiscal 2013, Zambia is slated to be the seventh largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance in the region. 


Last month, the Obama administration pledged its continued commitment to USAID’s health assistance to Zambia.


“We laud the Zambian government’s growing leadership in addressing public health challenges and pledge to continue our investment through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other initiatives to combat infectious diseases and improve maternal and child health,” President Obama said in a statement issued days before he was sworn in for a second term on January 20.


Zambia’s peaceful and democratic transition of power to President Michael Sata in 2011 has likely strengthened U.S. foreign policy imperatives for its development partnership with Lusaka. In its 2012 strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa, the Obama administration had committed to bolster its support for model democracies in the region. Zambia has been a multiparty democracy since 1991.


In keeping with the USAID Forward reform agenda, USAID Zambia has announced plans to significantly increase its use of local implementing partners. According to USAID, all of its Zambia programming prioritize building the capacity of local actors in the government, civil society, and private sector. From 2008 to 2012, the $50 million USAID-funded Local Partners Capacity Building Program had provided technical assistance for HIV/AIDS-related institutional capacity to 103 local organizations in Zambia.


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