Facts & Figures

Compiled by:
Pricila Mabande (Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC))

Executive Summary

Zambia is a land-locked Sub-Saharan African country sharing boundaries with eight countries, having a total land area of 752’612 km2 and a population of about 13.046 million people. The country is divided into ten provinces and 84 districts. The annual population growth rate was estimated to average 2.8 percent between 2000 and 2010. Zambia’s water and sanitation needs are primarily addressed through the government of Zambia’s National Water and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) and the Devolution Trust Fund (DTF) through some commercial units (CUs) for water supply and sanitation. As of 2008, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had the following statistics for Zambia’s water and sanitation status regarding the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number 7C: “60 percent of the total population is using improved drinking water supply, whilst 49 percent of the total population has access to improved sanitation facilities” (UNICEF & WHO 2010).

Location and General Conditions

Adapted from IMASIKU & FEILBERG (2012)

The Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa occupying an area of 752,614 square kilometres. It borders on the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the northeast, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west. The capital city is Lusaka, located in the south-central part of the country. The urban population is concentrated mainly around Lusaka in the south (estimated at 1,3 million inhabitants) and the Copperbelt Province to the northwest, whilst the rural 11.4 million live in the countryside. There are 7 major language groups: Bemba, Kaonde, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja and Tonga, however, the official language is English.


Location of Zambia in relation to its neighbours Africa. Source: GOOGLE MAPS (2012)

Zambia lies on the Central African high plateau at an average altitude of 1200 meters above sea level. The climate is mild and sub-tropical characterised by three seasons: a hot-dry season from August to November, a rainy season from November to April and the cool-dry season from April to August. Lowest temperatures (19°C to 20°C) are experienced in the month of June and the highest (28°C to 38°C) in the month of October. Rainfall varies within the different districts of the country from 600 mm in the South to 1500 mm in the North.

Water Resources

Adapted from IMASIKU & FEILBERG (2012); WIKIPEDIA (2012)

  DWA (n.y.)

Main water catchments in Zambia. Source: DWA (n.y.) 

The main water bodies in Zambia are within the watersheds of Zambezi and Congo rivers with their tributaries of Kafue, Luangwa, Luapula and Chambeshi, and Lakes Tanganyika, Bangweulu, Mweru and Mweru wa-Ntipa including the man-made lakes of Kariba and Itezhi-Tezhi. As the main water bodies are shared with neighbouring countries, Zambia has signed and ratified several agreements pertaining to the management of shared watercourses. These include Zambezi River Authority (1980), Lake Tanganyika Convention (2003) and the Revised Protocol on Shared Water Courses (2004).

The annual total renewable surface water potential for Zambia has been estimated to be just over 100 km3 with the Zambezi River contributing over 60 percent of the runoff at the confluence with Luangwa River. A 1995 estimate of the average renewable groundwater potential was 49.6 km3.

River Catchment

Total Catchment Area (Km2)

(Area outside Zambia)

% Contribution to Surface Water Potential

Annual Run-off (Km3)





Kafue River






















Total for Zambia

803’267 (422’078)



Main water catchments in Zambia. Source: DWA (n.y.)


Average Flow (m3/s)

Live Storage (million m3)

Annual Evaporation (million m3)

Kafue Gorge Dam




Itezhi-tezhi Dam




Kariba Dam




Mulungushi Dam




Lunsemfwa Dam




Lusiwasi Dam








Distribution of water stored in Zambia’s dams. Source: IMASIKU & FEILBERG (2012)

Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Overview

Adapted from USAID (2011); WIKIPEDIA(2012)

In Zambia, urban and rural access coverage for improved water supply and sanitation (WSS) has increased overall since 1990, but Zambia is still unlikely to meet its Millenium Development Goal (MDG) targets in water and sanitation (USAID 2011). As of 2008, 60% of the entire population of Zambia had access to an improved source of water supply and 49% had access to adequate sanitation. In water supply, the urban population was reported to have 87% access (national surveys of 2010), 78% urban population access (NWASCO 2010), while rural populations were reported to have 46% access. For improved sanitation, access rates were similar for both independent urban populations surveys at 59% access (national survey in 2010), 54% (NWASCO 2010) and for rural populations 43% access.

Currently, 41% of the population in urban areashave access to water connections in their house or yard and 49% rely on water kiosks and standpipes. According to a survey conducted by NWASCO in 2010, 94% of water samples collected in urban areas were in compliance with drinking water standards. The continuity of water supply in urban areas is intermittent with an average supply of 16 hours per day as observed in 2010. In sanitation, 29% of the urban population are connected to sewers while 30% are served by septic tanks or improved household-level latrines.

Key Public Players in the Zambian Water and Sanitation Sector



Ministry of Energy and Water Development (MEWD) http://www.mewd.gov.zm/

Water resources management

Administers water rights

Some financial management of WSS sector

Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) http://www.mlgh.gov.zm/

Administrative and financial management of WSS services

Department of Infrastructure and Support Services (DISS)

Technical support to WSS service providers

Overseas development and rehabilitation of WSS infrastructure

National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) http://www.nwasco.org.zm/

Independent WSS service regulation

Commercial Utilities (CUs)

Provide WSS service to urban and peri-urban areas

11 CUs exist in eight out of nine provinces

District Water, Sanitation and Health Education Committees (D-WASHE)

Promoting sustainability of service through local control and oversight of WSS service which may be provided by local WASH committees or CUs

Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Unit (RWSSU)

Works to strengthen the institutional support of rural WSS service providers

Environmental Health Section of Ministry of Health (MoH)http://www.moh.gov.zm/

Promotes water supply, sanitation and hygiene

Ministry of Education (MoE) http://www.moe.gov.zm/

Responsible for construction of water points and latrines in schools, colleges and universities.

Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS) through its Department of Community Development (DCD)

Involved in water supply and sanitation activities, particularly through its staff at district level

Summary of key public players in the Zambian water and sanitation sector. Sources: USAID (2011); STOLTZ et al. (2007)

Key Private Players in the Zambian Water and Sanitation Sector



African Development Bank (AfDB)

Urban Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) service delivery projects in the central province including establishment of a CU

Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA)

Supports RWSS management information system and knowledge and resource framework

Urban and peri-urban WSS Service delivery for low-cost housing areas

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

RWSS decentralisation and service delivery in Southern Province

Leads donor coordination in WSS group

KfW (German Development Bank)

Support to NWASCO and the DTF

Urban WSS service delivery

Rural WSS (RWSS) in the Southern Province

Irish Aid

Urban WSS service in the Northern Province

Support to RWSS utilities and the DTF

Prioritisation and planning in WSS sector

Capacity building & institutional strengthening for RWSS through Water Sanitation and Health Education (WASHE) framework

Japan International Cooperation Agency


Peri-urban water supply service delivery through community-based schemes

Groundwater development via borehole drilling

Linkages with public health

Netherlands Development Corporation


Peri-urban and rural WSS capacity building & institutional strengthening through hygiene education at catchment level and targeting gender issues


The World Bank


Urban WSS through improvements in Copperbelt CUs to attract private investments

WSS sector-wide policy making capacity in the Ministry of Energy and Water Development (MEWD) and Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH)

Legislative, regulatory and institutional reform related to decentralisation

Water resource management in Kafue Basin

Support to Zambia Social Investment Fund (ZamSIF)

Water and Sanitation Program, Africa


RWSS sector programming, policy development and streamlining

Sanitation marketing and community-based water and sanitation delivery schemes in poor urban areas

Support to MLGH in development of MDG roadmaps, prioritisation and planning

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)


RWSS service in drought & refugee affected areas

Financing District WASHE activities for improved hygiene in schools

Summary of key public players in the Zambian water and sanitation sector. Source: USAID (2011)

Investments and Financing

Adapted from WIKIPEDIA (2012)                                                                 

In 2002, total actual investments in the Zambian water and sanitation sector were estimated at US$ 33.5 million, including US$ 33 million by donors and NGOs (98%) and US$ 0.5 million (2%) by the government using its own resources. The investment needs prepared by the Water Supply and Sanitation Development Group as a medium-term development strategy for the Government of Zambia to implement during 1994–2003 were estimated between US$ 407 million as a low-cost investment strategy and US$ 1’553 million as a medium-cost investment strategy every yearduring this period to rehabilitate the existing system and expand the network to avoid reduction in access rates without increasing access rates to consumers. Approximately 98% of investments in the sector are financed by donors and NGOs, whilst the government of Zambia established a Devolution Trust Fund (DTF) to provide financing to increase access in poor urban areas through the use of low-cost technologies. The DTF to date has financed water kiosks that provided access to clean water to 120’000 people at a cost of 643’455 Euro until 2006.

References Library

DWA (Editor) (n.y.): No Title. Lusaka: Department of Water Affairs Republic of Zambia (DWA). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

GOOGLE MAPS (Editor) (2012): Zambia. Mountain View, CA: Google Inc. URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

NYAMBE, I.A.; FEILBERG, M. (2012): Zambia National Water Resources Report. Lusaka: Ministry of Energy and Water Development. URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

NWASCO (Editor) (2010): Annual Report. Lusaka: National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

STOLTZ, H.T.; JOERGENSEN, M.; MUTALE, M.; ZULU, A.; SIPUMA, R.; LUMBA, W.K. (2007): Sector Capacity Study Water and Sanitation. Final Report. Collaborative Effort between Government of Zambia. Lusaka: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Denmark. URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

USAID (Editor) (2011): Zambia Water and Sanitation Profile. Washington D.C.: United States Agency for International Development (USAID). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

WIKIPEDIA (Editor) (2012): Water Supply and Sanitation in Zambia. No Location: Wikipedia. URL [Accessed: 12.06.2012].

WHO (Editor); UNICEF (Editor) (2010): Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water. 2010 Update. Geneva: World Health Organisation (WHO) / New York: UNICEF. URL [Accessed: 14.04.2011].

Further Readings Library

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GOZ (Editor) (1997): The Water Supply and Sanitation Act. Lusaka: Government of Zambia (GOZ). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

This is the act that is currently in force governing water supply and sanitation services in Zambia.

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GOB (Editor); GOC (Editor); GOT (Editor); GOZ (Editor) (2003): The Convention on the Sustainable Management of Lake Tanganyika. No Location: Government of the Republic of Burundi (GOB); Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (GOC); Government of the United Republic of Tanzania (GOT); Government of the Republic of Zambia (GOZ). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

This convention outlines the conditions of the shared Lake Tanganyika between Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi and Congo.

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NWASCO (Editor) (2010): Annual Report. Lusaka: National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

This report gives an outline of the performance of Commercial Utilities and other divisions of the water supply and sanitation sector in meeting national targets and consumer demands.

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PPIAF (Editor) (2012): PPIAF Assistance in the Republic of Zambia. Nairobi: Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

This report gives information on the Zambian government private sector development reform program, with the aim of facilitating private sector engagement for the development priority infrastructure sectors (energy, water and transport).

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SADC (Editor) (2005): Regional Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resources Development and Management. Annotated Strategic Plan 2005 to 2010. Southern African Development Community (SADC). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

This document presents the background and context of Water Resources Development in Southern Africa, lists the goals of the Action Plan, defines the scope of activities and elaborates on frameworks, strategies, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.

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SWA (Editor) (n.y.): ZAMBIA: Statement of Commitments. New York, NY: Sanitation and Water for All (SWA). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

This document states the commitments of the Republic of Zambia on sanitation and water supply goals.

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WSP (Editor) (2012): Zambia loses ZMK946 billion annually due to poor sanitation. Washington, D.C.: The Water and Sanitation Programm (WSP). URL [Accessed: 02.11.2012].

This study provides an estimation of economic impacts on populations in Zambia without access to improved sanitation in order to provide information on the losses to society of Zambia. While not all these economic impacts can be immediately recovered from improved sanitation practices, it provides a perspective on the short- and longer-term economic gains that are available to countries through a range of policies to mitigate these impacts.

Case Studies Library

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CHILESHE, P.; TROTTIER, J.; WILSON, L. (2005): Translation of water rights and water management in Zambia. International workshop on ‘African Water Laws: Plural Legislative Frameworks for Rural Water Management in Africa’. Newcastle: University of Newcastle. URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

This article gives a detailed insight into the legislative frameworks active in the Zambian rural water supply sector.

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DTF (Editor) (2007): CU-Project Completion Report - Chipulukusu Water Supply Project. Copperbelt: Water and Sanitation to the Urban Poor (DTF). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

This article outlines a case study of Chipulukusu Water Supply project funded by the DTF and successfully completed.

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DAGDEVIREN, H.; ROBERTSON, S.; IPC (Editor) (2008): Reforming Without Resourcing. The Case of the Urban Water Supply in Zambia. (= Policy research brief, 8). Brasilia: International Poverty Centre (IPC). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

This report outlines the evolution of the water and sanitation sector and gives some practical examples of their functions in present day Zambia.

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IRC (Editor) (2007): Towards Effective Programming for WASH in Schools.A manual on scaling up programmes for water, sanitation and hygiene in schools. Delft: International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

This link shows the case studies of WaSH interventions initiated by UNICEF at school level in different parts of Zambia.

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NWASCO (Editor) (2010): Urban and Peri-Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Report 2010/2011. Lusaka: National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

This report gives annual information on the performance of the Zambian water and sanitation sector, including the accomplishments and activities of the commercial utilities.

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UNICEF (Editor) (2011): Sanitation and Hygiene Case Study 6: Zambia. Chief Macha’s Toilet Revolution. New York, NY: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). URL [Accessed: 13.06.2012].

This article shows how local leadership through government structures, sector reforms and private investment changed the behaviour and attitudes of two communities.

Important Weblinks

http://www.nwasco.org.zm [Accessed: 13.06.2012]

The National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) regulates water providers for efficiency and sustainability of water supply and sanitation service provision. A critical function of NWASCO is the developing of sector guidelines and disseminating information to consumers. The annual sector report is one such information dissemination channel.

http://www.unicef.org/ [Accessed: 13.06.2012]

This link gives further information on Zambia’s demographics at National Level as well as by socio-economic segregation of urban and rural.

http://www.dtfwater.org.zm/ [Accessed: 13.06.2012]

This link in the website shows case studies in different parts of Zambia where various water and sanitation projects are being implemented under the Devolution Trust Fund (DTF).

http://www.wssinfo.org/ [Accessed: 13.06.2012]

The website of the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation is a resource for decision makers, researchers, and civil society at large to learn about the JMP's activities, the status of water supply and sanitation coverage and its importance for our health and well-being, and to obtain detailed statistics about the use of water and sanitation facilities at different scales (global, regional and country-level).