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ZambiaCountry profile

    • Area: 752,614 square kilometres
    • Population: approx. 12.6 million
    • Population density: about 17 per square kilometre (cf. Germany: 229 per square kilometre)
    • Official language: English
    • Independence: 1964
    • Capital: Lusaka
    • Form of government: Presidential Republic (in Commonwealth); constitution of 1991
    • Average life expectancy: 44 years
    • Illiteracy rate: 29.4% (population aged over 15)
    • Top 3 exports: copper, cobalt, electricity
    • Number of cotton farmers: 145,000 (status 2010)
    • Number of “Cotton made in Africa” farmers: 72,472 (status 2010)
    Zambia map

    Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa, and is located on the Central African plateau; the capital city Lusaka in the south is located at an altitude of about 1,300 metres. The altitude means that Zambia has a moderate tropical climate.

    When Zambia was granted independence in 1964, it was regarded as one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. For a long time it concentrated exclusively on the export of copper and copper products, while neglecting other economic sectors. The collapse in commodity prices and economic policy decisions causes a serious economic emergency situation in Zambia. Zambia has repeatedly got close to economic upswing, but the economy has had to face great economic difficulties not least due to the dramatic spread of HIV and AIDS. But there are reasons for optimism – agriculture and tourism give a lot of potential for economic stability. Many hopes are also based on cotton.

    Africa map

          Vegetation zones of Africa with CmiA growing areas

    Zambia is about twice the size of Germany, and has a population of nearly 13 million. The average life expectancy is only 44 years, due to high mortality rates caused by AIDS; the HIV infection rate is extremely high in international comparison. In 2006 about 750,000 children in Zambia were AIDS orphans; the authorities calculate that by 2015 there will be one million children, that is about 20% of all children in the country, who have to grow up without parents. Only a small proportion of the orphans has a chance of acceptance by a children’s home. About 6% of children are homeless, and UNICEF puts this figure as high as 10%.

    But the Zambian government is investing heavily in the health sector, especially in combating HIV and AIDS. The government sees HIV and AIDS as a national threat, and is launching a nationwide programme to prevent the spread of HIV, providing free-of-charge treatment of AIDS and administration of medical drugs to AIDS sufferers. The programme is making a major contribution to ensuring that many smallholder farmers who previously had to care for their sick relatives can now work on the farms again, and thus contribute to the family income.

    Cotton made in Africa images

    Despite the moderate climate, sufficient water resources, good soils and rich mineral resources such as copper, cobalt and precious stones, Zambia is one of the poorest countries in the world. One reason for this is the one-sided economic development of the country, which for a long time focused almost exclusively on copper mining in what is known as the “copper belt”, a mining district in the north of the country, and largely nationalised the mining industry. Under the long-standing President Kenneth Kaunda, who still has worldwide respect as a politician, the country tried for decades from the late 1960s until the early 1990s to take a middle way between capitalism and socialism.

    The prices of minerals dropped dramatically in the 1970s, especially the price of copper, Zambia’s main export. The country was economically very hard hit, because other sectors of the economy such as agriculture had been seriously neglected. It was not until a major reprivatisation programme was launched and support was given by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the 1990s that the economy began to recover. Now the development of other economic sectors is also being pushed forward.



    But the cotton sector in Zambia, like the rest of the country’s agriculture, still has to struggle with infrastructure problems. Agricultural subsidies meant that in the past the main focus was on growing maize, while neglecting other agricultural products that would be ideal to grow under Zambia’s conditions, such as coffee and cotton. It is also estimated that arable land is used efficiently only in a minority of cases. Cotton is mainly grown by smallholder farmers in Zambia. It has a good future in Zambia, especially because of the favourable climatic conditions there.

    The Zambians also have high hopes for tourism. At present mass tourism is not possible because of lack of infrastructure, but there is great potential in natural attractions such as the numerous national parks and the world famous Victoria Falls. This most celebrated of Zambian sites is fed by the River Zambezi, which gave the country its name; it flows through the country for more than 1,550 kilometres, and at the Falls it has a drop of more than 100 metres over a width of more than 1,700 metres. The flora and fauna of Zambia is particularly rich in species due to the geographic diversity of the country. The 19 nature reserves of the country are home to many of the species that children typically associate with the African continent.

    Current information on Zambia is available at the website of the German Federal Foreign Office.

    CmiA graphic
    Cotton made in Africa images

    Sources: Human Development Report 2009 (UN); Foreign Office; World Development Indicators 2009; Fischer Weltalmanach (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/Federal Political Education Centre)

    Teaser Milestones

    Albert Watson: Visions feat. Cotton made in AfricaThe exhibition and the project behind it

    This exceptional collaboration with fashion and commercial photographer Albert Watson will provide insight into the cotton farmers' worlds and transport a better awareness of CmiA's work.

    The photos will illustrate the initiative's goal to improve social conditions in the smallholder farmers’ lives without visual stereotypes. The aim is in contrast to show a new image of African living environments – through the eyes of Albert Watson. In addition to the cotton harvest, that was underway during the journey, Watson has also visited traditional markets and a regional king in Benin to get an impression of the diversity of life in Benin and its people.

    African cottonIn demand worldwide

    African cotton is almost exclusively grown by smallholder farmers, using sustainable growing methods with harmony between agriculture, the natural environment and human beings. About 8% of the cotton traded in the world market is harvested in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Africa cotton is almost exclusively grown by smallholder farmers, and there are only very few large plantations. ...