Zambia: Emergency Preparedness & Response

Zambia: Emergency Preparedness & Response

In the past few years, Zambia has been experiencing adverse effects of climate-related disasters including severe droughts, erratic rains, and flash floods. Natural conditions together with subsequent epidemic outbreaks (polio, cholera, covid-19) left the population across the country at a high level of acute food insecurity.

People in Need provides urgent humanitarian assistance to reduce food gaps, protect and restore livelihoods, and prevent acute malnutrition among the most vulnerable groups. Emphasis is given to access to and quality of health care, regular training of health personnel, distributions of medicines, food, tents (etc.), access to clean water and good hygiene practices, and improving farmers’ production and self-sufficiency to ensure resilience and overall stability.

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Emergency assistance to malnourished children under 5, and pregnant and lactating women in Western Province

Emergency assistance to malnourished children under 5, and pregnant and lactating women in Western Province

As a result of the natural disasters associated with the severe climate change that Zambia has experienced in recent years, almost 2 million people are currently at risk of acute food insecurity. The widespread drought, followed by floods, rising basic food prices, and the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, are exacerbating the crisis. Climate-related disasters have a serious impact on the livelihoods of the population from rural areas, whose only source of livelihood is agriculture. The Western Province is one of the poorest areas of Zambia, where acute malnutrition is a long-term problem. Malnutrition can have fatal effects on the health of vulnerable groups of children under five and pregnant and breastfeeding women. However, health centers are not able to provide qualified care to their patients.
People in Need in the Western Province works closely with the Ministry of Health in an effort to increase the effectiveness of health services provided to people with acute malnutrition. Thanks to the current operations in the Western Province, the capacity of selected health centers has been strengthened. However, their inaccessibility to people from remote villages, who often cannot afford long journeys, remains a problem. People in Need strives for affordable and quality health care for all. Several other district hospitals will be equipped with the necessary materials and tools for measuring and treating malnutrition. Medical staff will be trained to respond promptly to the needs of their patients. Besides, community volunteers will be selected, thanks to their regular contact with families, malnutrition can be identified in time and possibly start its treatment. Their home visits and the involvement of traditional community leaders help to spread key information about a balanced diet and preventing and identifying malnutrition.

Multi-sectoral interventions to prevent the spread and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in Western Province and Lusaka, Zambia

Multi-sectoral interventions to prevent the spread and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in Western Province and Lusaka, Zambia

The global Covid-19 pandemic hit Zambia in March 2020. With the frequency of cases, the pandemic gradually spread throughout the country. Currently, the incidence is increasing dramatically, especially in Lusaka, Southern and Western Provinces, which is attributed mainly to the possibility of testing, which is low in other regions. Like the rest of the world, the Zambian government has introduced a number of measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic, which poses a threat especially to remote regions with difficulty accessing  health care and clean water. The effects of long-term restrictive measures have an impact on the country's already weakened economy and employment. The population, which finds itself in a food crisis and deep life insecurity, is growing. Also, as the healthcare system is not prepared to provide special care associated with Covid-19 treatment, there is a lack of qualified health staff, supplies, and pharmaceutics. Hospitals often do not meet adequate hygiene conditions and do not have access to clean water. Hygienic conditions are also problematic in households.

Together with the partner organization Caritas Czech Republic (CCR), we are working on comprehensive improvement of access to health care and its quality and strengthening the resilience of communities and their awareness of good hygiene practices. Selected hospitals and health centres in Lusaka and the Western Province will be rehabilitated and hand-washing facilities and water infrastructure will be constructed. Simultaneously, the facilities will be equipped with protective supplies, materials, and technologies for the treatment of Covid-19. Dozens of health professionals will receive training on the prevention and identification of viral diseases, so they will be able to ensure the testing of  Covid-19 and quickly start treatment. Training in good hygiene, prevention, symptom identification, and treatment will be also attended by community volunteers and traditional community leaders, so that key information reaches as many people as possible. The project also includes an information campaign on hygiene and myths related to Covid-19.

Multi-sectoral interventions to prevent the spread and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in Western Province and Lusaka, Zambia

Multi-sectoral interventions to prevent the spread and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in Western Province and Lusaka, Zambia

The project is a consortium with the Caritas Czech Republic and Mendel University Brno focuses on mitigating the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic on various levels. Comprehensive assistance was focused on health structures and hygiene measures, as well as on agricultural self-sufficiency and food security of vulnerable groups.
Modernization of medical facilities, trainings of medical staff, material equipment and setting of hygienic standards in accordance with WHO guidelines are the key steps to ensure quality accessible health care and to prevent the spread of the disease in rural areas of the Western Province and densely populated urban areas of Lusaka.
The project supported the construction of hand-wash stations and water infrastructure in hard-to-reach or overcrowded areas. The emphasis was placed on information and awareness-raising activities through radios, social networks, and other communication channels. Trained volunteers were in regular contact with communities to ensure the distribution of basic hygiene kits and raise awareness of good hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the disease.
Households made up of elderly members, refugees, women alone or with pre-existing financial problems were considered as most at risk, therefore they received financial assistance and agricultural kits. Communities in rural areas were trained to improve their agricultural production, adopt new technologies and agricultural practices
 
Nutrition Emergency Response In 6 Drought Affected Districts in Zambia

Nutrition Emergency Response In 6 Drought Affected Districts in Zambia

Zambia has long been a country with a high rate of chronic malnutrition (35% of children under the age of five are at risk of severe acute malnutrition). In past years Zambian population has been facing natural disasters that have a dramatic impact on food security and health. Extreme floods are followed by unusual long periods of drought and heavy rains. The key beneficiaries of the project in cooperation with UNICEF include the most vulnerable - children, pregnant and lactating women, people with disabilities, and elderly populations. Thanks to the project, which is co-financed by the PIN internal fund Club of Friends, medical facilities in the Western Province are newly equipped in several areas and able to provide qualified health care to victims of malnutrition. Trained medical staff will deepen their knowledge and skills in the treatment of acute malnutrition and will better respond to the needs of the population. The result of regular training of community volunteers is an increased awareness of community members about malnutrition prevention and its measurement. The gender-sensitive approach of community volunteers ensure equitable access to health care for the most vulnerable groups. Given the specifics of the current situation associated with the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, project activities include staff and community volunteer trainings and workshops with an emphasis on good hygiene practices, prevention, symptoms recognition, and treatment of viral diseases.

Emergency seed distribution in response to the drought in Western Province, Zambia

Emergency seed distribution in response to the drought in Western Province, Zambia

With the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, People in Need, in cooperation with the Zambian Red Cross Society, managed to mitigate the impacts of climate change in several districts of the Mongu region in the Western Province. Because of the severe drought caused by inconsistent rains and prolonged dry spells, the population in rural areas finds themselves without their only source of livelihood – the agricultural land.
The project focused mainly on food security, improving agricultural practices and efficient agricultural production. Thanks to seed distribution and boreholes construction, the project ensured stable access to the necessary nutritionally valuable foods and drinking water. Part of the project was also to provide trainings and workshops to the community members to adopt new technological procedures, such as the use of organic fertilizers, and to deepen their knowledge of efficient food production and safe storage.
PIN was able to quickly respond to the unprecedented situation associated with the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The project's activities were flexibly adapted to the new health and social challenges of the pandemic. As part of the awareness campaign, the communities were informed about all the aspects of Covid-19 (its spread, symptoms, and the hygiene measures that need to be followed). Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, the project was able to fully meet its objectives and improve the living conditions of a total of 6742 beneficiaries.

Women in Innovation III (An integrated approach aimed at reducing malnutrition in the Western Province)

Women in Innovation III (An integrated approach aimed at reducing malnutrition in the Western Province)

This project was another successful phase of the previous projects taking place since 2017 in the Western Province. In response to long periods of extreme drought alternating with heavy rains, People in Need focuses primarily on ensuring the food security of a vulnerable group of children under 5 years old and pregnant lactating women. 
Nutrient-rich crops and seeds were distributed to the beneficiaries. Following the distribution, care-givers were trained to improve their agricultural production, ideally so that they could sell the obtained surplus on the local market. Moreover, there were cooking workshops, in which the caregivers learned new practices of cooking nutritionally balanced food necessary for the proper growth and development of their children. People in Need also initiated self-help savings groups, thanks to which women can manage their finances and invest the saved capital in agriculture or their own business.
Hygiene awareness had also become a key aspect of the project to combat the global spread of the covid-19 pandemic. Besides, some schools were supported with solar-powered boreholes so that their students could follow general good hygiene principles and access safe water.
Building resilience of refugees and asylum seekers forcibly displaced from DRC

Building resilience of refugees and asylum seekers forcibly displaced from DRC

For many years, the Meheba refugee settlement in the North-Western Province has hosted refugees and asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where long-term instability and regional armed conflicts have caused the permanent movement of millions of people within the country and region.
As part of the Let’s build a School in Africa project, People in Need focused on improving the quality of education in the Meheba refugee settlement. Another project taking place in the Meheba refugee settlement responds to the often desperate situation of refugees who come to Zambia without any financial resources or material security.
Thanks to the project, financial support was provided to the most vulnerable families and individuals. Assistance was given mainly to mothers with children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with disabilities, and families in significant financial distress. The project also included Cash for Work support to those who were ready to help with construction work in the camp, especially the construction of refugee housing units and toilets. With the Cash for Work programme, people were able to obtain an income for the work they provided.
An integrated approach aimed at reducing malnutrition in the Western Province II

An integrated approach aimed at reducing malnutrition in the Western Province II

This project was another successful phase of the previous projects taking place since 2017 in the Western Province. In response to long periods of extreme drought alternating with heavy rains, People in Need focuses primarily on ensuring the food security of a vulnerable group of children under 5 years old and pregnant or lactating women. 
Nutrient-rich crops and seeds were distributed to the beneficiaries. Following the distribution, caregivers were trained to improve their agricultural production, ideally so that they could sell the surplus on the local market. Moreover, there were cooking workshops, in which the caregivers learned new practices of cooking nutritionally balanced food necessary for the proper growth and development of their children. People in Need also initiated self-help savings groups, thanks to which women can manage their finances and invest the saved capital in agriculture or their own businesses.
Hygiene awareness has also become a key aspect of the project to combat the global spread of the covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, some schools were supported with solar-powered boreholes so that their students could follow general good hygiene principles and access safe water.

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