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MDGs,How is Zambia fairing?

Zambia's progress towards the MDGs is captured in the National Millennium Goals Progress Reports. In addition to statistics, the reports contain projections on how likely the MDGs will be met. These projections are developed through a broad participatory process, where government civil society, private sector and various development partners come together to compare the statistics on the basis of such indicators as availability of supporting environment, prospects for economic growth, debt relief and aid.  

Read how UNDP supports Zambia to reach MDGs.

These targets and indicators below have been localized for Zambia. For global targets and indicators, click here.  


MDG 1: Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger

1Extreme poverty declined from 58% in 1991 to 51% in 2006. This is a positive trend, but the rate of change at current levels would be too slow to meet the target of 29% by 2015, which would halve extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is also much higher in rural areas at 67% compared to 20% in urban areas. However, the poverty gap ratio declined from 62.2% in 1991 to 34% in 2006, indicating that the severity of poverty declined sharply, and providing evidence that with the right policies and investments the incidence of poverty can fall fairly quickly. On the nutrition indicator, the prevalence of underweight children declined from 25.1% in 1992 to 14.6% in 2007. However, stunting in children remains a major issue of concern and should be addressed by appropriate nutrition, health and education strategies particularly targeted at pregnant women and children in their first 1,000 days after birth.
Sustained and robust economic growth is essential but not sufficient on its own for the achievement of this goal. Macroeconomic and structural policies that promote job creation, economic inclusion, social empowerment and significant levels of investment in health and education are essential. Some key policy and investment choices that can accelerate the achievement of the MDG 1 targets include:
  1. Commercialization of small scale agriculture and diversification of the rural economy;
  2. Implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies; 
  3. An institutionalized social security system to protect the most vulnerable; and 
  4. More accessible and efficient service delivery that reaches the poorest.


MDG 2: Achieving Universal Primary Education

2Net enrolment of children in primary education increased from 80% in 1990 to 102% in 2009, supported by the increased construction of schools, the removal of school fees in 2002 and the adoption of Free Basic Education and Re-entry Policies. Such policies also favoured an increase of 27.7 percentage points in primary school completion rates, from 64% in 1990 to 91.7% in 2009. The primary education target of 100% has already been attained. The main challenges at present are adult literacy, which declined from 79% in 1990 to 70% in 2004, and the low completion rate in secondary school (despite its increase from 14.4% in 2002 to 19.4% in 2009). The emphasis needs to be on the quality of education, achieving higher completion rates for girls in secondary education and improving access to post-secondary education and skills training.


MDG 3: Promoting Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

3With regards to gender parity in education, the ratio of girls to boys in primary education improved from 0.90 in 1990 Progress Report 2011 to 0.96 in 2009. In secondary school this rate decreased from 0.92 in 1990 to 0.88 in 2009. On women’s representation in parliament, Zambia’s percentage at 14% in 2009 is low relative to the MDG and SADC target of 30%. This figure has been on a gradual rise from 6.7% in 1991, and requires affirmative action to reach the target. Early marriage, teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and cultural and social factors that deter girls and women from actively participating in the political life of their communities need to be addressed to see further progress towards this MDG target. School and community sensitization to change attitudes and behaviours, together with investments in women’s education, equal pay for equal work as well as increased access to financing, entrepreneurship skills and asset ownership by women will go a long way towards this end.


MDG 4: Reducing Child Mortality

4The number of under-five deaths dropped from 190.7 per 1,000 live births in 1992 to 119 in 2007. The MDG target is 63.6 by 2015 so further efforts are necessary. Infant mortality has also declined from 107.2 per 1,000 live births in 1992 to 70 in 2007. Similarly, additional action is necessary to reach the target of 35.7 by 2015. Increased access to skilled birth attendance during delivery and higher levels of mothers’ education and nutrition standards reduce many of the common causes of neonatal mortality. Continued and effective child immunization particularly from 0-2 years, scaling up of interventions for prevention and management of common childhood illnesses and promotion and support of appropriate breast feeding and infant and young child feeding practices are strategies and programmes that would need to be intensified for the country to reach this goal.


MDG 5: Improving Maternal Health

5To achieve this goal, Zambia needs to significantly reduce the number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy, child birth and the postpartum period over the coming four years. Maternal mortality decreased from 649 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1996 to 591 in 2007. The target is 162 in 2015, which means a further reduction of 429 deaths per 100,000 has to be achieved by 2015. The known success factors are the presence of trained midwives at births, and rural feeder roads and transport that get pregnant women to health clinics on time. The necessary investment in terms of training, oversight and incentives for midwives should be provided in conjunction with improved access to and monitoring of rural health posts, and curbing unsafe home-based birthing practices.


MDG 6: Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

6The national HIV prevalence rate among adults (15-49 years) declined from 15.6% in 2002 to 14.3% in 2007. The target, which is to keep prevalence below 15.6%, has been met. It must be noted that women in Zambia have a higher prevalence rate of 16.1% compared to men (12.3%), and the urban population has rates twice as high as the rural population (19.7% versus 10.3%). The lowering of prevalence rates has been made possible by effective strategies on ARV provision and coverage, and significant reductions in mother-to-child transmissions. Treatment for HIV patients has been scaled up to cover 70% of all PLHIV eligible for ART, while prevention efforts have increased coverage of PMTCT to 65%. The challenge remains of halving new HIV infections by 2015. The rate of contraceptive prevalence increased from 11.6% in 1992 to 24.6% in 2002. Only 25% of adult Zambians have been tested for HIV, and intensified efforts at prevention, including the use of birth control to prevent the continued spread of STDs and HIV, is key.
Important progress has been made on the malaria targets. The proportion of children under-five, who sleep under an insecticide-treated net rose from 6.5% in 2001-2002 to 41.1% in 2008. Continued efforts at access to treated bednets and malaria prophylaxis is critical to prevent any roll back of hard-won gains in this area. Tuberculosis notification rates have been declining steadily, since reaching a peak of 545 per 100,000 people in 2003-04 to 425 per 100,000 people in 2009. The target of TB treatment success rate of 85% in the new smear-positive TB patients was attained in 2007, and reached 86% in 2008.


MDG 7: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability

7The percentage of land covered by forests in Zambia decreased from 66% in 1990 to 55.9% in 2007, and this has been a serious cause of concern. High priority efforts to curb deforestation and to regenerate forest cover is a critical factor to protect and enable the more sustainable use of the country’s rich natural resource base and be more resilient to climate change shocks. With regards to sustainable access to drinking water and sanitation, the proportion of households without access to a clean water source was reduced from 51% in 1990 to 40% in 2006. More efforts in this direction to reach the target of 25.5% is recommended, enabled through access to boreholes replacing old wells in rural settings and greater access to treated municipal water in peri-urban areas. The share Millennium Development Goals of the population without access to improved sanitation grew from 26% in 1991 to 36.1% in 2006. This trend undermines progress in achieving MDG 7 and remains a significant challenge. Strategies that support positive trends in these fields include greater community management of forestry resources, strict monitoring and curbing of illegal logging practices, curbing unplanned urban settlements, and promotion of public-private partnerships that provide accessible but also affordable water and sanitation services to poorer urban and rural communities.


MDG 8: Developing a Global Partnership for Development

8Zambia has regained and sustained an impressive record of macroeconomic stability, achieved single-digit inflation and consistently had growth rates over 5% for the past five years. Official Development Assistance (ODA) increased from US$754 million in 2002 to US$918 million in 2009, and the Highly Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC) and Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) reduced Zambia’s debt servicing obligations. The stock of external public debt dropped from US$6,005 million in 1999 to US$934 million in 2006. However, since then, external public debt has increased to US$1,521 million in 2009.
In 2010, Zambia was considered the 6th best country in Africa to do business. This context has attracted significant foreign direct investments (FDI). From 1995 to 2005, the country received an annual average of US$211 million of FDI, and from 2006 to 2009, the figure rose to US$960 million annually. The area of focus must now be on improving competitiveness. Zambia is ranked 115th out of 139 countries in terms of competitiveness. Policies should be targeted at easing supply-side constraints in transportation, storage, communications and local entrepreneurs’ easy access to open markets, particularly for agricultural produce. Efforts to expand the domestic revenue base through effective taxation policy and its full administration is a must, as ODA shows greater volatility and even decline in the coming years. The use of the fiscal space for an increase in investments in human development is a strategy used effectively by countries that show significant progress on human development. The easing of regional and global trade barriers through common agreements will be key to a more robust and open trading regime that spurs balanced growth. At the same time, cooperating partners must also meet the ODA target of 0.7% of their GDP as agreed in Gleneagles to support the achievement of the MDGs by 2015.
* The Zambian data displayed on this page is from the Zambian Millennium Development Goals Report 2011.


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