Key facts

Hazards covered by anticipation    

Drought | Floods

No. of people reached by anticipation (activations)

Start Network, 2016: 48,490

IFRC, 2023 (floods): 12,000

Anticipation partners in country    

Zambia Red Cross Society | Netherland Red Cross | Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre | IFRC | 510 initiative of the Netherlands Red Cross | Water Resource Management Authority | Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit | Zambia Meteorological Department | Ministry of Health | Ministry of Community Development and Social Services | Ministry of National Development and Planning | Ministry of Agriculture | Ministry of Local Government | Mulungushi University | University of Zambia | WFP | UNICEF | Catholic Relief Services | Concern Worldwide | Oxfam | Save the Children | World Vision

Inform Risk Index (2022)   

Hazard and exposure: 2.2

Vulnerability: 5.8

Lack of coping capacity: 6.0

Total: 4.2 (medium)

Rank: 76


Photo: Sanja Gohre / IFRC

Country profile

Zambia is a low-income country with high levels of poverty and inequality. As of 2015, nearly 60 per cent of the population earned less than 1.90 US dollars per day. Three quarters of Zambians live in rural areas.

With three distinct climatic zones, Zambia is exposed to a variety of hazards, of which drought, floods and epidemics affect the highest number of people and cause the most deaths. Other hazards include wildfires, pests and environmental degradation. 

Flooding affects the highest number of people in Zambia, and leads to the destruction of housing, major infrastructure (e.g., transport, education, health) and the commercial service sector.

Exposure to drought is particularly high in southern Zambia. Drought affects the agricultural sector in particular, by destroying crops and reducing yields. It may also lead to significant economic losses in hydropower production.

Epidemics are more common in urban areas and are linked to the country's overall vulnerability and lack of hygiene and sanitation. These are the most fatal hazard in Zambia.

Overall, Zambia does not face a particularly high occurrence of hazards, but is considered at risk because of its extreme vulnerability, which is largely due to high levels of poverty. In addition, rural livelihoods are largely dependent on agriculture and natural systems, such as rainfall. As climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of floods and drought, this will add additional pressure on the agricultural sector and on vulnerable rural people.


Forecast-based financing in Zambia: taking advantage of the forecast to implement early actions to minimize the impact of anticipated disasters (floods, drought) 

Since 2018, the  Zambia Red Cross Society has been building partnerships with local stakeholders to establish forecast-based financing in Zambia. An Early Action Protocol for Floods was approved in September 2020.

In 2016, the Start Network provided Catholic Relief Services, Concern Worldwide, Oxfam, Save the Children and World Vision with approximately £109,000 to prevent worsening food insecurity, which was anticipated because of late rains in Western Province and Southern Province.

FAO is working to support early action for drought in Zambia.