The proportion of orphans who have lost both their parents  is recently estimated as over 19 percent. As a child grows, the chances of having lost one or both parents increases. Amongst 14-year-olds, 31 percent of urban children and 27 percent of rural children have lost one or both of their parents.

Source: CIA World Face book (As of September 2009)

Largely as a result of HIV and AIDS, the number of orphans in Zambia has increased dramatically in recent years with currently 1.1 million children estimated to have lost one or both parents.

Maternal mortality at 729 per 100,000 live births is amongst the highest in the world. It is expected that 60 percent of babies born will not survive to the age of 40. For many mothers, pregnancy and birth remain a serious threat. Malaria is responsible for one third of under five deaths, with many others caused by respiratory infections, diarrhea and neo-natal conditions. Although not usually cited as the cause of death, it is estimated that malnutrition is an underlying factor in 54 percent of child deaths. During the "hungry season," when food is scarce, many families eat only one meal a day

Overall, life expectancy at birth in Zambia is  52 years (men), 55 years (women) (UN) Currently 14.3 percent of the Zambian population between the ages of 15 and 49 are living with HIV and AIDS.

Zambia is landlocked and sparsely populated by more than 70 ethnic groups, many of them Bantu-speaking.

It has some spectacular scenery, including the Victoria Falls along the Zambezi River, the Bangweulu Swamps and the Luangwa river valley.

Population: +17 million (2019)

Capital: Lusaka

Area: 752,614 sq km (290,586 sq miles)

Major language: English (official), Bemba, Lozi, Nyanja, Tonga

Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs, Hinduism, Islam

Life expectancy: 52 years (men),

55 years (women) (UN)

Monetary unit: 1 Kwacha = 100 ngwee

Main exports: Copper, minerals, tobacco

GNI per capita: US $490 (World Bank, 2006)

We are here



Zambia is a peaceful country with vast agricultural lands. However, Zambia continues to suffer the devastating impacts of a mature AIDS epidemic, chronic food insecurity and widespread poverty and today Zambia is the third hungriest country in the world.

In Zambia, 60 percent of people live below the poverty line and 42 percent are classified as extremely poor. Poverty rates are highest for female-headed households, with extreme poverty levels of more than 60 percent in rural areas and 15 percent in urban areas. As a result of chronic malnutrition nationally, 40 percent of children under 5 years are stunted. Analysis by age groups shows that stunting is highest (54 percent) in children 18–23 months and lowest (14 percent) in children under 6 months. Children in rural areas (42 percent) are more likely to be stunted than those in urban areas (36 percent).


Zambia ranks among the countries with highest levels of poverty and inequality globally. 58% (2015) of Zambia's 16.6 million people earn less than the international poverty line of $1.90 per day (compared to 41% across Sub-Saharan Africa) and three quarters of the poor live in rural areas.

Currently, Zambia ranks 134th out of 157 countries in progress toward meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Sachs et al. 2017). Infant and under-5 mortality rates are 45 and 75 deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively. At these mortality levels, 1 in every 22 Zambian children will die before reaching his or her first birthday, and one in every 13 will not survive to his or her fifth birthday (CSO, MOH, and ICF International 2014).

Zambia is experiencing a generalized HIV/AIDS epidemic, with a national HIV prevalence rate of 17% among adults ages 15 to 49.  Per the 2000 Zambian census, the people affected by HIV/AIDS constituted 15% of the total population, amounting to one million, of which 60% were women. Amongst urban young women in particular, infection rates reach 22 percent by age 20 to 24. An estimated 40,000 babies are infected annually, the majority dying before the age of five. The burden of disease is particularly evident in children under age 5 and mothers.

Home Zambia parks

Doors of Hope Zambia 2004©