Zambia is a large but sparsely populated country with just 14.2 million people spread over its 752,614km² (the UK is approximately 245,000 km²). It is ranked as low as 164th out of a total of 174 on the UN Human Development Index, which gives an indication of the chronic poverty experienced by the majority of its population. Life expectancy is only 51.5 years and 64% of people live below the poverty line.
Unlike many other countries in the region, Zambia has large fresh water resources even though rainfall has declined markedly over the last 30 years. The country is rich in rivers including the majestic Zambezi as well as deep rift valley lakes including Tanganyika, Mweru and Kariba. Despite this, just 1.5% of these water resources are currently being accessed and used. 4.7 million people do not have access to safe water; that’s nearly two people in every three.
Over 7 million do not have access to adequate sanitation. 5,000 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.
Zambia has signed up to the UN Millennium Development Goals and is attempting to halve the number of people without access to safe water by 2015. The statistics indicate that while some progress has been made on the provision of better access to clean water, good sanitation has generally been sidelined.
Just a Drop has completed several projects in Zambia to date and will continue to work in this very poor nation to help provide communities with much needed wells, boreholes and sanitation services.