Honnald Foundation

In today’s fast-paced and technological world, it is easy to take everyday things for granted. Millions of people have lights, electric stoves and numerous electronic devices at their fingertips. However, there are an estimated 1.1 billion people across the globe who do not have access to basic electricity. These areas often lack development from big companies that would create job opportunities. Thus, it is no surprise that many areas that suffer from “energy poverty” are among the same areas that hold the highest rates of international poverty. Rock climber Alex Honnold identified the intersection between electricity and poverty and decided to take action. In 2012, Honnold created his own nonprofit organization called the Honnold Foundation.

Alex Honnold

Alex Honnold is known for his role in the documentary “Free Solo.” The adventure climber rocketed to fame when he became the first climber to ascend Yosemite’s 3,000 foot El Capitan wall without the assistance of any ropes, harnesses or other protective equipment. He has gained a large international following from his successful climbs of the biggest cliffs in the world. But, Honnold is equally well known for the strong work ethic and humble attitude he carries with him.

As Honnold began to gain attention for his impressive climbing skills, he had many opportunities to join climbing trips to various remote places around the world that were sponsored by different brands. In preparation for his travels, Honnold would often read books about each of his destinations to learn more about the area. He soon began to develop an understanding of climate change issues, social justice efforts and environmental problems. Honnold also witnessed them first-hand in many of his expeditions. On an eye-opening trip to Chad in 2010, Honnold recalled driving through entire villages without access to power.

Developing the Honnold Foundation

Honnold continued to educate himself on these issues. In 2012, Honnold and his longtime climbing partner Maury Birdwell dreamed up the Honnold Foundation. Its vision is to fight poverty, improve lives and reduce environmental impact via solar projects around the world. Poverty and global warming were the two most concerning issues that came up repeatedly in Honnold’s research and experiences. Honnold and Birdwell found that both issues could be resolved by the promotion of solar energy.

They developed the idea on the way home from a climbing trip. With Yosemite as their office, the founders of the Honnold Foundation tweaked and honed their ideas into a cohesive and forward-thinking organization. Honnold believes that access to electricity is essential to improving people’s lives. Since its inception, Honnold has consistently given a third of his income to the Honnold Foundation each year.

Honnold Foundation’s Focus

The Honnold Foundation is a nonprofit public charity that provides funding for solar power initiatives that tackle global energy inequality through environmentally sound means. In recent years, the organization has honed in on four main nonprofit organizations: SolarAid, GRID Alternatives, The Solar Energy Foundation and Northern Navajo Solar Entrepreneurs. Each organization focuses on a unique element of solar expansion and share the unifying mission of transitioning people to solar energy.

There have been several projects to date. One project furthers the efforts of SolarAid to replace polluting and dangerous kerosene lamps in Malawi and Zambia with solar ones. Another is advancing pay-as-you-go financing for solar energy systems in Ethiopia through the Solar Energy Foundation. It installs affordable solar power through GRID Alternatives to off-grid low-income communities. Furthermore, it promotes solar education in community hubs and supports long-term entrepreneurship programs to increase solar energy in Navajo communities.

Solar power is cheap, reliable, safe and variable in its applications. When asked about the great work he is doing with solar energy through his foundation, Honnold often brings the attention back to what this energy is doing for the people in these communities. Many organizations exist to support the basic necessities of food, shelter and water, which are all essential components. Without electricity, there can be no sewing machines or rice mills. Job opportunities are scarce.

Solar electricity gives people access to education, better living conditions and economic advantages. Solar power helps reduce environmental impact worldwide, but especially in regions that have never had electricity in any form. It can’t be expected for those living in poverty to care about sustaining the environment when their own basic needs aren’t being met. The Honnold Foundation aims to shed light on both the planet and poverty.

GiGi Hogan
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS Prevention in Zambia

Antiretroviral therapy in Zambia has been one of the most effective HIV/AIDS prevention strategies in recent years. Thanks to the efforts of the CDC and the Zambian government, the spread of HIV/AIDS has decreased steadily by 13 percent since 2010.

HIV/AIDS Prevention in Zambia – Strategies

  • Education and Awareness: The effective response and resource allocation from the Zambian government through early HIV testing had a profound effect on the stigma surrounding the virus, encouraging more people to get tested. To that end, the government implemented the GIPA policy, emphasizing equality in medicine free from discrimination. In addition, the National Health Services Act is a government policy aimed at strengthening the structural power of Zambia’s medical field to increase its influence on rural communities. Aside from spearheading research, the act more clearly defines Zambia’s medical infrastructure with a power structure to allocate resources as effectively as possible. Integrating these government programs into the heart of Zambia’s most impoverished communities decreases the chances of an outbreak.
  • Antiretroviral Therapy: As mentioned above, the CDC is also active in Zambia, focusing on early antiretroviral therapy in highly affected areas like the Copperbelt and the western provinces. Within these parameters, 89 percent of those who began treatment immediately are less likely to spread the virus. Outreach programs to reach the more impoverished and marginalized groups have also been successful, with antiretroviral therapy increasing among children from 23 percent in 2009 to 79 percent as of 2019. The government has also promoted the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily course of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) taken by HIV-negative people which reduces the risk of contracting the virus.
  • Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission: Through the PMTCT (Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission) plan, Zambia has made great strides aimed at preventing the spread of the virus from mother to offspring by providing lifelong antiretroviral therapy in Zambia. According to the CDC, through early education and effective policy implementation, the health protection agency has prevented 98 percent of HIV-exposed babies from contracting the virus.

Final Thoughts

The lack of access to basic health care and a comprehensive understanding of how HIV spreads, especially in rural communities, produces a hostile environment where exposure risk increases. Furthermore, high poverty and unemployment levels create a shaky foundation where socio-economic growth is key to eliminating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia. However, increased government spending has sprouted new testing facilities in rural areas, providing quality service where “…the Government is scaling up social protection by increasing allocations to the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) and Food Security Pack (FSP) program[s] and other poverty mitigation measures.”

The key to a structural change in Zambia’s HIV epidemic lies partially in assisting Zambia’s fairly large impoverished community. In addition, antiretroviral therapy in Zambia continues to be a focal point of the government’s long-term plan to eliminate the virus with increased spending on antiretroviral therapy and sex education in a bid to secure more prosperous futures for its citizens.

Adam Townsend
Photo: Pixabay

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is the largest free-trade agreement in the world with a 1.2 billion-person market and a combined GDP of 2.5 trillion dollars. It was signed in March of 2018 by 44 African heads of state, and following the initial signing, 5 more countries joined in July for a total of 49. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement’s primary focus is to increase intra-African trade by promoting free movement of goods and tariff-free trade. In fact, for the countries that joined, tariffs are expected to decrease by 90 percent within 5 years.

According to an article by The Economist, roughly 82 percent of African goods are exported to other countries. Due to high transport costs, poor infrastructure (e.g. in West Africa, less than one-fifth of the roads are paved) and time-consuming border procedures, it is more costly to trade within Africa than to export to foreign countries.

With the new free-trade agreement, a more competitive market will emerge that will reduce costs for consumers. Additionally, producers will have access to a larger number of potential buyers, as well as more investment opportunities from foreign countries. Strengthening intercontinental trade has the potential to protect the countries in Africa from the impact of exogenous trade shocks.

Maximizing the Impacts of AfCFTA

In order to reap the highest benefits from the new intra-continental free trade agreement, it is imperative to make adjustments to Africa’s trade structure. However, trade facilitation is not an easy task. It involves coordination between countries, transparency in policies and easing the movement of goods. Currently, intra-African trade accounts for only 16 percent of Africa’s total exports, while the bulk of its exports are to Europe (38 percent), China (19 percent), and the U.S. (15 percent). With the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that intra-African trade will see a 52 percent increase by 2022.

Infrastructure Development

Reducing non-tariff barriers, like transport time for goods, is an essential component of solidifying the new free-trade agreement. According to the International Monetary Fund, the average cost of importing a container in Africa is about $2,492, which is significantly more expensive than the cost of exporting to another continent. This helps to explain Africa’s high incentive to export the majority of its goods.

In order to aid with the implementation of infrastructure projects, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) has facilitated two main systems of information. The African Infrastructure Database (AID) concerns itself mainly with data management and stores information about ongoing infrastructure development projects including the location as well as relevant financial and economic information. The Virtual PIDA Information Centre contains regional and continental infrastructure projects and promotes investment opportunities.

Clearly, higher access to information regarding infrastructure projects can help countries organize themselves around infrastructure development efficiently. This will help to reduce the intra-African costs of trade by fostering more easily navigable and cheaper transport routes between countries.

Economic Integration

It is crucial to consider that the informal trade sector contributes to a large amount of overall trade in Africa. The Africa Economic Brief is a document published by Jean-Guy Afrika and Gerald Ajumbo that discusses the specifics of informal trade in Africa. It states that the informal cross border trade sector (ICBT) represents 30-40 percent of total intra-African trade. In West and Central Africa, women make up almost 60 percent of informal traders, and 70 percent in Southern Africa.

Problems that affect the formal sector, like infrastructure and trade, have a disproportionate effect on the informal sector—especially for marginalized groups such as women and youth. It is unclear how the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will affect these groups as trade is adjusted; however, an increased focus on local trade and easier trade routes will likely facilitate trade for everyone involved. Since informal trade struggles with the same main issues as formal trade, making trade more accessible in the formal sector can create positive spillovers.

The informal trade sector is an important one to protect. Big businesses often avoid trading with rural areas due to high transportation costs, so instead these areas rely on informal trade for food, clothing and other commodities. Furthermore, ICBT provides a vital source of income to individuals who are often low-income or low-skilled. According to the Africa Economic Brief, studies estimate the average value of informal cross border trade to be 17.6 billion dollars per year in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

In order to provide support for informal traders in Eastern and Southern Africa, the United Nations is funding a project to help decrease gender-specific obstacles in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia. A focus on female empowerment will help maintain and improve the informal trade sector and contribute to poverty reduction.

With support from various organizations, countries in Africa are taking defining steps to reduce taxes, transport times, and an increase in market competition. Signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement opens Africa up to free trade and, if facilitated effectively, it will have enormous positive implications for Africa’s economy.

– Tera Hofmann
Photo: Flickr

UNICEF Soccer AidFor over a decade, UNICEF has hosted its annual Soccer Aid, a charity soccer match featuring both professional and celebrity players to raise money for keeping kids around the world happy, healthy and safe. This year, the match was held in London on June 16, and raised a record-breaking £6,774,764 ($8,577,528.70 USD) in one night alone and £1,000,000 more than last year. The UK public, ITV and STV users all contributed, and the UK government matched each donation up to £3,000,000 to defend play for every child.

Helping Sierra Leone and Zambia

The money raised from the match will support the work of UNICEF to ensure that over 80,000 children in Sierra Leone and Zambia can have a childhood of play. The funding will help to provide lifesaving food, vaccinations, clean water, support for caring for mothers and babies and protect children from violence, exploitation, and abuse.

Sierra Leone’s under-five mortality rate is in the 2nd percentile, having one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. The many causes of death in children are preventable. Most deaths are due to nutritional deficiencies, pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases, anemia, malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. Some of the attributable factors include limited access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, poor feeding and hygienic practices, and limited access to quality health services.

Zambia is a country with many adolescents. 53 percent of the population is under 18 years old, and many of these children–45.4 percent–are affected by extreme poverty. Almost 65 percent of children in rural Zambia are affected by three or more deprivations: access to nutrition, education, health, water sanitation, adequate housing, and physical and emotional abuse. While the infant mortality rate improved by 37 percent between 2007 and 2014, it is still in the 25th percentile. However, with the help of UNICEF Soccer Aid, these conditions can be improved.

UNICEF’s Impact

UNICEF has worked in 190 countries and territories over 70 years to fight for the lives of children around the world. Through their projects, including child protection and inclusion, child survival, education, emergency relief, gender discrimination, innovation, supply and logistics, and research and analysis, the organization saves the lives of nearly 3,000,000 each year.

UNICEF believes in the power of play and the joy of a carefree childhood. However, millions of children around the world are unable to be included in this objective due to disease, conflict, hunger and poverty.
Through play, children are able to learn how to interact with their peers and learn abstract concepts. Just 15 minutes of play can spark thousands of connections in a baby’s brain, and playing before they enter school has an impact on how they will perform.

Since its first match in 2006, UNICEF Soccer Aid has raised more than £35,000,000 and through projects funded by Soccer Aid and the UK government, they have improved the lives of 2,000,000 children and 903,000 pregnant women.

Over the last 13 years, UNICEF Soccer Aid has been able to change the lives of children by helping them reach their full potential. By bringing people together to watch a match and encourage donations, they are able to change lives in many in parts of the world.

– Alexia Carvajalino
Photo: Unsplash

Girls' Education in ZambiaDue to extreme poverty, girls’ education in Zambia suffers. Many Zambian girls and young women miss out on the opportunity to receive an education. With 64 percent of the population living on less than $1.25 a day, Zambia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Unfortunately, this leads to serious repercussions for the Zambian youth.

Background

In fact, the Southern African Consortium for Measuring Education Quality found Zambia comes in at No. 13 out of 15 countries for literacy and numeracy. In rural areas, 27 percent of females receive no education. This is primarily due to poverty, pregnancy and early marriages.

The United Nations’ Girls’ Education Initiative found female literacy measures at 67 percent while male literacy is measured as 82 percent. This disparity holds females back in terms of economic advancement and independence from their male counterparts. The legal age for marriage in Zambia is 16. Subsequently, 46.3 percent of girls get married before the age of 18. Early marriages contribute to female dropout rates. Therefore, initiatives encouraging women to delay marriage or continue education while married can decrease dropout rates.

Calling for Change

In October 2018, Permanent Representative of Zambia Christine Kalamwina recognized girls’ education in Zambia is imperative in ensuring gender equality and economic advancement of females. In response to this, the Zambian government enacted a law mandating an equal male-female enrollment rate. This law aims to close the education gender gap. Additionally, many girls drop out of school due to menstruation. As a result, the Zambian government began distributing free sanitary towels in rural areas.

Fortunately, there are many organizations working to improve the girls’ education in Zambia. The Campaign for Female Education works with the local government to promote gender equality and child protection. They have already provided secondary scholarships for 38,168 girls in Zambia alone.

The World Bank’s International Development Association also does important work to improve girls’ education in Zambia. The Girl’s Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihood Project (GEWEL) helps the Zambian government decrease the rate of child marriage. To do so, they increase access to secondary school for young girls from poor families. One method include the Keep Girls in School bursary. Financial issues often force girls to drop out of school. Therefore, the KGS bursary provides the funds necessary to continue girls’ education. Similarly, the Support Women’s Livelihood program supports working-age women. It offers training, startup funds, additional savings and mentorship programs. Ultimately, GEWEL helped 20,000 in 2017 and projected they would help over 50,000 women in 2018.

Jessica Haidet
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in Zambia
Zambia is a tropical country in southern Africa with a population of approximately 16,445,079 people. It has a rich history of copper production and is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. However, HIV/AIDS has become prevalent throughout Zambia and is a large contributing factor to the country’s low life expectancy, which currently ranks second to last in a global comparison.

HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, attacks a person’s immune system by destroying white blood cells that fight disease and infection. Though there is no cure for HIV, people can control it successfully. Without proper medical care, the infection can lead to AIDS, which is the most severe phase of HIV infection.

The Current State of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Zambia

Heterosexual intercourse is what mainly drives Zambia’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. HIV/AIDS particularly affects adolescent women compared to other age groups in Zambia. In fact, according to data collected by UNAIDS, one million women between the ages of 10 and 19 were living with HIV in 2017, while only 770,000 of their male counterparts had the same prognosis.

This discrepancy is due in part to the many societal issues that permeate throughout the lives of Zambian women. Younger Zambian women are more likely to have an older partner already infected with HIV. Additionally, many Zambian women are not in charge of their own reproductive health or education.

In fact, only 56 percent of Zambian women are literate. Meanwhile, the country only has a contraceptive prevalence rate of 49 percent. Both issues decrease a Zambian woman’s ability for education on the matter, as well as the ability to prevent pregnancy and the eventual exposure of HIV to a fetus in the womb.

Other marginalized Zambian groups disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS are children, sex workers and prisoners. According to UNAIDS, an estimated 8,900 children were newly infected with HIV in 2016 due to perinatal transmission. Perinatal transmission refers to when a mother passes HIV to her child during pregnancy, labor or breastfeeding. Meanwhile, sex workers and prisoners had HIV prevalence rates of 56.4 percent and 27.4 percent respectively.

The Future of HIV/AIDS in Zambia

Zambia is currently taking steps towards decreasing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country. The first step has to do with prevention and education. According to the 2014 Zambia Country Report, the country’s provision of free condoms nearly doubled from 7.8 million to 19.6 million.

Additionally, according to the National AIDS Strategic Framework (NASF), comprehensive sex education will become a larger focus for adolescent Zambians within forthcoming years. Furthermore, several HIV prevention programs are active in Zambia and focus on empowering the country’s most susceptible population — young and adolescent women. Zambia is one of 10 countries that takes part in the DREAMS initiative, which strives to reduce new infections among women by addressing structural inequalities and gender norms.

Though Zambia has recently scaled up its efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, it needs to do more to effect real change. Zambia’s domestic spending on HIV/AIDS only takes four percent of the overall budget, despite having risen drastically within the past few years. Even if Zambia were to spend this portion of the budget on providing ART, testing facilities and eMTCT services, a real societal change would not occur unless communication in Zambia health care systems increases. Zambia must see to the general population being educated about adhering to treatment, getting tested regularly and exercising effective prevention techniques.

There is much room for improvement when it comes to fighting HIV/AIDS in Zambia. However, by increasing access to education and focusing upon marginalized groups — such as young women — the prevalence of this infection in Zambia will drastically decrease.

– Shreya Gaddipati
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Zambia
Zambia, a southern African country with a population of 15.5 million, is one of the fastest growing economies on the continent due to copper mines and agriculture diversification. However, despite its economic growth, Zambia is still one of the poorest countries in the world with 60 percent of the population living below the poverty line and 40 percent of those people living in extreme poverty. With a fast-growing population and high youth unemployment rates, Zambia is still facing the challenge of widespread poverty. In the article below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Zambia are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Zambia

  1. According to Habitat for Humanity, around 64 percent of Zambian’s live under $2 a day and people that are extremely poor live under $1.25 a day. However, due to the rapidly growing economy, living in Lusaka, the country’s capital, is more expensive than living in Washington D.C.
  2. Zambia is experiencing rapid urbanization due to the increased job and higher income opportunities. The current urban housing shortage is around 1.3 million housing units. This figure is expected to increase to 3 million housing units by 2025. Due to the lack of housing, it is reported that about 70 percent of the urban population lives in slums with critical water and sanitation problems. Habitat for Humanity has been trying to reduce housing poverty in the country for a few decades. and has served about 3,500 families and continues to improve the housing conditions for many Zambians.
  3. Fertility rates in Zambia are on the rise. Between 2013 and 2014, the reported fertility rate was 5.2 percent of children per woman. It is reported by the United Nations that Zambia’s population is projected to increase by 941 percent by the end of the century, making it the highest projected growth rate in Africa.
  4. In many areas, Zambia has an inadequate sewage system and many Zambians lack a proper toilet. According to National Public Radio (NPR), it is reported that about 6.6 million people in Zambia lack a proper toilet. The country has an acute sewage issue with pit latrines covering about 45 percent of Lusaka. When the pits are filled there are either emptied by the local authority or the owners just fill them up and construct new ones.
  5. It is estimated that 4.8 million people in Zambia do not have access to clean water and rely on rivers and lakes that are contaminated with feces. The contaminated water is used as drinking water and to cook food which leads to diarrhea and cholera. However, WaterAid is helping countries like Zambia to get access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.
  6. Approximately 2,000 children under the age of 5 die on a yearly basis due to contaminated water and poor toilets. In 2013, statistics showed that more than 3,500 new-born babies died of infections that were linked to unsanitary water in Zambia.
  7. Zambia is one of the 20 countries have pledged to end child marriage by 2020. Around 6 percent of Zambian girls are married before the age of 15. However, child marriage rates have reduced from 42 percent to 31 percent in 2014. To reduce the child marriage rate, Zambia has adopted the National Strategy on Ending Child Marriage in Zambia.
  8. Zambia, like many other African countries, has been battling the challenge of hunger for many decades. About 1.12 million children under the age of 5 in Zambia suffer from chronic malnutrition. Furthermore, there is about 60 percent prevalence of anemia among young children in Zambia.
  9. According to the CDC, HIV/AIDS and TB are the top diseases in Zambia that cause death. However, HIV/AIDS-related deaths have declined by more than a third. Also, the infection rates among young children have declined from 14,000 in 2005 to 7,300 in 2017.
  10. Access to education in Zambia has increased rapidly. However, the quality of education is still lacking. USAID is putting in the effort to improve the quality of education by implementing education programs that target the performance of the students and teacher.

Zambia’s economy is improving rapidly. However, living conditions have hardly improved over recent years. People are still struggling to get access to basic survival resources and are living in unsanitary conditions that give rise to chronic diseases. One of the adverse effects of the growing economy is it has widened the inequality gap. Despite the country’s growing economy, 60 percent of the population is still struggling to make a living. However, the living conditions in Zambia can improve if the government focuses on implementing programs that will reduce the overcrowding, the improve the quality of education and help provide clean water to every citizen. Zambia may have grown economically, but the fight for poverty reduction is yet to come.

– Komalpreet Kaur
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Zambia
Five years ago, the government of Zambia partnered with The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in a $355 million push to improve water and sanitation in Zambia. MCC, a U.S. foreign aid agency, has been providing aid and oversight to this Southern African nation since 2012. The expectation was to improve the living conditions of as many as 1.2 million Zambians.

MCC’s investment in Zambia is coming to an end soon, though. With the compact set to expire in November of this year, the government will have to forge its own path to ensure that the progress made since 2013 will continue to be maintained and built upon.

The Need for WASH

Access to proper water, sanitation and hygiene (often referred to together as WASH) is vitally important to the development of any nation. Contaminated water and poor sewage facilities can lead to outbreaks of diseases like cholera and diarrhea, which can be crippling or even fatal. Lack of access to a convenient water supply can also force caregivers (often women) to spend hours each day drawing water from crude wells.

These concerns and others continue to be relevant in Zambia. Cholera outbreaks have spiked in the country this year due to a lack of WASH facilities. According to UNICEF, only 19 percent of rural populations have access to basic sanitation services. In urban areas, the number increases to a still shockingly low 49 percent.

Zambia’s population is growing rapidly. Following the trend of increasing African urbanization, nearly half of Zambians live in cities like the capital of Lusaka. The majority of those urban citizens live in low-income areas, most of which do not have developed sewer systems.

The Impact of MCC

MCC’s compact with the Zambian government was designed to address these problems head-on. The money it provided was put toward several major infrastructure projects, many of which are focused in Lusaka. The key focus has been improvements to the city’s sewers and a new drainage system, which will protect a million citizens from flooding.

In the long run, these investments should improve access to clean water and sanitation in Zambia. Beyond the personal quality of life benefits these improvements provide, they will also protect businesses from the danger of floods and help reduce the time needed to gather water. Reductions in sicknesses like cholera will also benefit both public health and economic productivity.

Safeguarding the Future

While MCC’s compact with the Zambian government is coming to an end, there are signs that its success may be carried forward after November. To begin with, MCC only invests in governments that show a genuine desire to better the lives of their citizens and the ability to properly use funding.

MCC’s goal is always to work in close collaboration with governments in order to ensure that they pass along the know-how to keep improvements running long after they leave. They have done just that in Zambia—training local water and sewage companies how to better manage their operations, consider environmental impacts and educate the public.

The projects started by MCC will not all be finished in November, but government workers and companies in Lusaka and around the country will be better equipped to continue making progress toward improved sanitation in Zambia.

It’s also important to note that Zambia will not be alone in pressing forward. Organizations like Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), The World Bank and The African Development Bank are all providing funding and expertise for further WASH projects.

Zambia faces many challenges, but the government is taking ambitious steps toward bringing improved WASH standards to the entire country. The government will continue to focus on Lusaka, where they hope to provide city-wide sanitation services by 2035.

Joshua Henreckson

Photo: Flickr


Credit access in Zambia is limited with only 38 percent of adults having some level of formal financial inclusion. While this number represents progress — as that percentage used to be a mere 23 percent — it also indicates that there is still room for development in the private and financial sector of Zambia.

The Financial Sector Deepening Zambia (FSDZ) is making a substantial effort to increase the availability of financial services and credit access to individuals in Zambia. By working with financial service providers, policymakers and civil society, FSDZ is creating an environment of greater financial inclusion in Zambia.

The Root of the Lack of Credit Access

One of the largest economic drivers in Zambia and several other developing countries are Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are pivotal to increasing the economy, as they often provide opportunities for low-income people and contribute to Zambia’s GDP by creating growth opportunities. In Zambia, the SME sector comprises approximately 97 percent of all businesses.

However, a majority of SMEs in Zambia face obstacles when attempting to gain support from Financial Service Providers like banks and microfinance institutions to grow their portfolios. According to a business survey conducted in Zambia, a majority of SMEs do not belong to a formal business association or network. Due to this, business owners and farm owners often can only rely on their limited network of friends and family for business, which is not a sustainable growth model.

Conversely, financial institutions emphasize that SME owners often do not have the capacity to prepare bankable business proposals, which was a large constraint to accessing finance. Better relationships between Financial Service Providers and owners of SMEs may create a path of greater understanding and thereby greater financial inclusion.

Long-Term Effects of Enhancing Zambia SMEs Access to Finance

Improving credit access in Zambia and addressing its financial inclusion strategy is key to not only increasing formal financial inclusion but also to growing and developing Zambia’s ever-changing economy. Increasing financial literacy among small and medium enterprise business owners will allow them advocate for themselves among financial institutions. Organizations like International Trade Centre (ITC) work to do just that, facilitating access to financial supply for SMEs with high growth potential.

So far, ITC has provided 105 growth-oriented small or medium enterprises with business development training and individual counseling that improves business management. All of the SMEs that underwent training developed growth strategies that helped them increase sales, invest in new technologies and hire more staff. Through the timeframe of the project, 50 percent of the SMEs that received support and training were able to access formal finance.

The Ripple Effect

Increasing financial inclusion in Zambia will have a ripple effect: if Financial Service Providers provide access to services to owners of SMEs, then SMEs will have more room for growth. If SMEs grow their businesses, then there will be more opportunities for employment, especially for the country’s poor, thereby decreasing poverty rates.

There is still much that needs to be done for Zambia to become more stable as an economy. However, if business owners receive more access to formal financial institutions, then credit access in Zambia will produce many opportunities for its citizens, lead to a more robust economy and alleviate poverty rates.

– Shefali Kumar
Photo: Flickr

 Zambia
Free medical textbooks, increased medical training and resources, rural community-based intervention programs and a new medical facility are helping to improve healthcare in Zambia.

Sachibond: A Small Clinic Becomes First-Level Hospital

In a remote area of northwestern Zambia, Sachibondu started as a small clinic in an area where many people lack access to basic physician care, some walking for days to reach this facility. It is now turning into a new hospital facility, undergoing major construction and upgrades which “will meet government requirements for a first-level hospital, which will attract more funding and staff resources from the Ministry of Health.” The new hospital will potentially reach tens of thousands of patients.

Upgrades at Sachibondu include x-ray and scanning technology, full operating capabilities, extensive inpatient and maternity wards and isolation areas for infectious disease control and treatment. The construction includes innovative design for ensuring fresh-air ventilation capacity and maximizing a layout for providing worker well-being and optimal clinical accessibility function. Also, designers strategically placed plants and other shades for providing privacy and to reduce overheating.

One of Sachibondu’s new architecture goals was to optimize worker and patient well-being because, as Jackson Amone from the Uganda Ministry of Health said, “Health is the state of physical and mental well-being, not just the absence of infection and disease.”

Sachibondu is run by the Zambian Government Ministry of Health, the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ) and the Sachibondu Health Committee; several volunteers also participated in the construction.

Enhancing Rural and Remote Medical Intervention Training

With 60 percent of Zambia’s 16 million people living in rural or remote areas, training villagers with basic medical emergency intervention methods has the potential to help save many lives.

Lack of skilled healthcare workers and quality facilities in rural and remote areas inspired community-based intervention training services, such as the formation of Safe Motherhood Action Groups (SMAGs).

SMAGs are groups implemented in rural and remote communities which are comprised of a variety of community health volunteers. These volunteers include birth attendants, health committees and community members specially trained to identify danger signs and encourage women to attend healthcare services. Such groups are supported and implemented by Health for the Poorest Population (HPP), the Ministry of Community Development, Maternal and Child Health in Zambia and UNICEF.

Increasing Healthcare Workforce Training and Resources for Preventing Diseases and Early Deaths

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) works with the Zambian Ministry of Health to strengthen the healthcare in Zambia. One such method is through the USAID Systems for Better Health, which is a training program that has produced over 1,600 new healthcare workers so far. Support from USAID for improving Zambian healthcare systems includes mentoring, supplying financial services and providing supply-chain management.

The U.S. government and USAID also support several programs combatting diseases in Zambia, such as is its efforts to control and prevent HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

The United States President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) helped Zambians reduce their death rate from malaria by over 30 percent by providing access to test-kits, life-saving medicines, insecticide-treated bed nets and residual spraying availability. USAID has also implemented updated technology and training for local healthcare workers to detect and treat a high prevalence of HIV and tuberculosis cases in Zambia.

Also through USAID’s efforts supporting improvements of healthcare in Zambia, infant mortality rate dropped by 36 percent between 2007 and 2014. Safe high-quality birthing services are increasing throughout Zambia through various programs including Saving Mothers and Giving Life. USAID assists by providing equipment, improving supply chains, strengthening links, training caregivers and educating community members.

Free Higher Education Books

With a 63 percent adult literacy rate and 51 percent of Zambians completing at least some secondary schooling, free higher education books (including medical textbooks) are helping to improve healthcare in Zambia by providing greater access to better-quality education.

Book Aid International is a non-profit organization based in London, England that distributes free up-to-date textbooks to universities, training institutions, libraries, clinics and hospitals in areas where people can’t afford books, such as Zambia. Book Aid International is often the sole supporter of many African libraries.

Improving Healthcare in Zambia, and Worldwide

One of the organization’s motivations to supply free higher education books is to improve healthcare worldwide. Book Aid International declares: “Access to accurate, reliable information is absolutely crucial in order to deliver medical care and health education, yet around the world, people cannot afford the books they need.”

In 2017, Book Aid International donated over 65,000 books to Zambians. With 42 percent of Zambians living on less than $2 per day, free books are a welcome and needed route for developing improved healthcare in Zambia. With assistance from international collaborations, Zambia’s healthcare has vastly improved throughout the country, and the nation’s future looks brighter than ever.

– Emme Leigh
Photo: Flickr