Winfreda Malilave with water

Winfreda Malilave holding a glass of clean water from a CAFOD-funded borehole.

Declining copper prices and prolonged drought have seriously damaged Zambia's economy, and three-quarters of its ten million people live on less than 60 pence per day.

Southern Africa Food Crisis

Families across Zambia face not having enough to eat in the coming months because of a crippling drought.

Read more about the serious food crisis affecting Zambia

On gaining independence from Britain in 1964, Zambia became a one-party state – a situation that lasted for 27 years until President Kenneth Kaunda agreed to multi-party elections.

At independence, Zambia was a major copper producer, but declining copper prices and prolonged drought seriously damaged Zambia's economy during the 1980s and 1990s.

The HIV epidemic has become a dominant health and development problem in Zambia. The HIV prevalence rate among adults is estimated at 21.5%, though recent figures show an encouraging decline in the prevalence among young adults.

CAFOD in Zambia

In Zambia our work includes:

  • Providing emergency food for people affected by drought
  • Setting up community gardens so people can grow food for themselves and to sell
  • Training people in business skills
  • Setting up boreholes and wells, and training local people to fix them when they break down
  • Helping people plan and adapt to future droughts.

Esther Siantobolo lives in a community whose lives have been deeply affected by the lack of availability of clean water. The village has a tap, but it is controlled by the government, who can't afford to pump water constantly.


If water comes in the night, we have to draw it in the night. If it comes in the morning, we have to draw it in the morning. It can come at any hour. When I am queuing I am thinking ‘this is not a good life to live'. I am supposed to be sleeping but instead I am drawing water. Water is life. Living without water is not a life.

Since CAFOD gave us a treadle-pump we are able to water a bigger part of our garden. Before the pump, I had to draw water from the river and carry it on my head. Now it takes less time. We have a bigger garden, a bigger harvest, and can sell more vegetables."

Esther Siantobolo

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