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VSO Zambia, operational for 54 years, currently targets the poorest and most vulnerable rural communities, prioritising women, children and people affected by HIV and AIDS, through an integrated programme in the areas of access to quality primary health services, food security and secure livelihoods. Core cross-cutting issues include governance, gender, HIV and AIDs and climate change.  In addition to supporting institutions and individuals in the delivery of services, we support civil society to participate in decision making and holding government authorities to account through advocacy.

13 000 000
Capital city
GDP per capita
US$1 497
HDI ranking
164 out of 187
Life expectancy
49 years

Seventy-eight percent of the rural population are living in poverty, where women and children are the most vulnerable. In the health sector, maternal mortality rates are 470 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to Zambia’s MDG target of 162 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015. Ninety-six percent of the Zambian population is at risk of malaria.  Zambia has the HIV prevalence rate of 14.3%, one of the highest in the world. Children are often left to be cared for by grandparents who do not have means to provide the basic needs such as adequate nutrition, education and health. Gender inequality is a major issue in Zambia, being ranked 124 out of 137 countries in the gender inequality index, with women’s rights to access and control of productive assets being limited.

Integrated programmes

VSO Zambia is expanding its capacity building support to key service delivery institutions, including government ministries and civil society organisations. This enables institutions to deliver better essential services in areas of health, social welfare, livelihoods, and gender mainstreaming.  At the same time, the programme provides capacity building support to civil society organisations, which enables poor people in rural areas to participate in decision making and for the population to hold the government and other service providers to account.

In the health sector the programme plans to scale up support to pre-service training focusing on associate clinician cadres, through management and training support to the training schools and to the hospitals where the students carry out their practical placements. VSO is also developing a programme to help strengthen community health systems.

In livelihoods, VSO is supporting a range of partner organisations to bring about crop diversification, improved access to credit and improved linkages to markets, with a focus on natural resource management.

Youth volunteering in Zambia

People aged 18-25 can apply to do fully-funded placements lasting three months in a number of developing countries, including Zambia, through the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme.

We have ICS projects in Choma in the south and Nyimba in the east of Zambia. Volunteers from the UK and Zambia support local organisations and government clinics to raise awareness about sexual and reproductive health. Workshops in schools and community groups can cover a wide range of youth issues, such as puberty, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and early marriage.

Find out about International Citizen Sevice.

Contact us

Get in touch with VSO Zambia at:
PO Box 32965, Lusaka, Zambia

Find out about volunteering

By volunteering abroad with VSO you get to put your skills, energy and personal qualities to work helping people break out of poverty. Interested in volunteering abroad?