Beige background

Project information: Zambia Food security

    Healthy nutrition for mothers and children

    Surviving the critical first thousand days

    Karte von Sambia

    As of: 11/2022

    Although Zambia is a middle-income country, hunger is widespread. The nation ranked 113rd out of 117 in the World Hunger Index. Due to malnutrition and undernourishment, many children do not develop in line with others their age and experience stunting. On behalf of the German Federal Government, KfW is participating in a nutrition programme that concentrates on the critical first 1,000 days in a child’s life. The target group is primarily children under the age of two, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, but also other women of childbearing age. Financial support, education and information are provided with the intent to improve the lives of the affected families. The support is primarily aimed at a more sustainable diet, higher hygiene standards and better access to clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.

    Project titleMulti-sectoral food security programme in Zambia
    Commissioned byCommissioned by Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
    Project partnersNational Food and Nutrition Commission Zambia, UNICEF

    Current situation

    Children squatting around a large bowl of cocoa beans
    A healthy and sufficient diet is a prerequisite for child development.

    More than a third of all children in Zambia under the age of two are too small for their age and their development is impaired. These typical symptoms indicate chronic malnutrition that inhibits physical and mental development and leads to lifelong impairments.

    Frequent recurring periods of drought and other extreme weather events affecting Southern Africa in the wake of climate change exacerbate the reasons for malnutrition in the country. In times like these, it is particularly difficult for the poor members of the population to get enough food. The uncertain food situation in Zambia is further exacerbated by the strong population growth. One Zambian woman gives birth to an average of five children.

    In addition, malnutrition not only affects children’s physical and mental development and the state of health of adults – it also has serious medium- and long-term consequences for the entire national economy. According to estimates, if malnutrition affects 30 to 50% of a population, the economic output of the country falls by up to 15%due to worker absence, declining productivity and high costs of illness.

    Project approach

    In order to stop malnutrition and undernourishment in the country, food must be accessible and affordable to all, and it must be used and exploited correctly. None of these basic conditions are consistently present in Zambia.

    This is why KfW, on behalf of the German Federal Government, is working with other donors to support the Zambian government in improving food security. We are financing the project within the framework of the special initiative “One World – No Hunger”, which is embedded in the global Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative, which Zambia joined in 2012. It is supported by 63 states and promoted by the United Nations. Zambia has since implemented the “First 1,000 Most Critical Days Programme” for food security. Zambia wants to expand the programme from 36 to 100 districts with the aim of reducing by a quarter the rate of undernourished children who have fallen behind in their development.

    The SUN promotional measures include a balanced diet for pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as infants and small children up to the age of five. The intent is also to convince mothers to breastfeed their children for the first six months. Measures for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases are also included. Supporting self-sufficiency with balanced food also includes projects that promote the establishment of vegetable gardens and small animal husbandry as well as improved hygiene practices. The programme is funded by a community of several donors, the EU, FCDO, Irish Aid, SIDA and Germany. The Zambian National Food and Nutrition Commission coordinates the programme, while UNICEF implements it.


    With the support of the SUN initiative, the project contributes to improving the nutrition situation in Zambia. This benefits women of reproductive age, pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as infants and small children, and the population of the target districts as a whole. Reducing future costs of illness and increasing overall economic productivity by preventing illness gives rise to positive effects at the individual, societal and macroeconomic level. This also reduces people’s risk of poverty.

    The project also promotes gender equality as mothers in particular benefit from balanced nutrition and the associated reduced burden of disease, as they usually are responsible for taking care of sick children.

    The project contributes to the achievement of these following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:


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