Supporting girls to learn and lead in Zambia

CAMFED has been operating in Zambia since 2001, when we were invited to support the Ministry of Education to improve access to and completion of education for rural girls.

Despite having obtained a lower middle income status, Zambia continues to face high levels of poverty and inequality. Girls experience high rates of exclusion from education, particularly in the rural areas of the Western, Luapula, Muchinga and Northern provinces where CAMFED operates. These provinces fare much worse than others in government assessments of income levels, education and health, although educational outcomes across the country continue to be poor.

By 2021, we had expanded our Zambia operations from 3 districts to 49, across four provinces, including two new districts in Central Province. Today, CAMFED Zambia works with government schools, communities, and local stakeholders, to improve learning outcomes and widen educational access for girls and marginalized children.

CAMFED’s action empowers the most marginalized girls in rural Zambia to attain a full secondary school education by providing them with comprehensive support, material and non-material, to meet their needs and inspire them to reach their full potential. With CAMFED Zambia’s interventions, the girls under its support achieve a completion rate of 96% and a progression rate of 98%. Additionally, CAMFED Zambia’s post-school programs provide school-to-work bridges and assist CAMFED Association members to become financially independent, enabling each member to support an average of three more children through school.

Dorothy Kasanda, National Director, CAMFED Zambia


When you educate a girl child, everything changes

“Every day I wake up, I choose to challenge girl child exclusion from education. That is because I have been a rural girl before, I know what it means to face challenges that keep you away from school, but I have overcome them. I was supported by CAMFED to complete school, and now I know why it is important to educate a girl child, because when you educate a girl child, everything changes.”

Natasha Lwanda, CAMFED Association Chairperson, Zambia

Barriers to Education in Zambia

Poverty, early marriage and pregnancy, are intrinsically linked and are the main challenges Zambian girls face in staying in school, particularly in rural areas where over half the population live.

  • 58%

    In Zambia, 58% of people live below the international monetary poverty line of $1.90 per day.

    UNDP (2019)

  • 27%

    Only 27% of girls in Zambia complete upper secondary school, and among the poorest children this falls to 3%.

    UNICEF (2019)

  • 29%

    In Zambia, 29% of girls are married before the age of 18, and 5% before the age of 15.

    UNICEF (2020)

Play videoImage

Meet Melody*, a secondary school student in Zambia

Melody’s family faced acute poverty and she was at risk of dropping out of school to become a child bride. CAMFED stepped in with bursary support and school-going essentials like books and sanitary pads, ensuring Melody has all the support she needs to stay in school and thrive. 

*Not her real name. This pseudonym was chosen at the time of filming as Melody was underage.

Since 2001, CAMFED Zambia has....

  • 528K

    supported 528,125 students to go to primary and secondary school using donor funds

  • 434K

    Of these, 434,208 students have been supported to go to primary school - CAMFED's Safety Net Fund for partner primary schools provides essential items for children to prevent them from dropping out of school.

  • 94K

    and we have supported 93,917 students to go to secondary school - CAMFED provides holistic support, that might include school or exam fees, uniforms, sanitary wear, books, pens, bikes, boarding fees or disability aids.

  • 1.4K

    CAMFED Zambia partners with 1,408 schools - We work in genuine partnership with government schools to help improve the learning environment for all students.

Unlocking Futures for Girls in Zambia

CAMFED supports marginalized children in rural areas of Zambia who are at high risk of early marriage to continue their education at their local secondary schools.

Children and teens are supported by a network of young educated women in the CAMFED Association, who join forces with local government and community authorities to uphold girls’ rights and ensure they have the necessary support to attend school and succeed.

Our programs are also benefiting thousands of children with an improved learning environment, specifically reaching out to girls with disabilities to ensure they are not left behind in their pursuit of their right to education.

Communities taking action

Together with CAMFED Association leaders, we catalyze the activism of CAMFED Champions in our partner communities to support more vulnerable children to go to primary and secondary school.

  • 272K

    Since 2001, 272,459 students have been supported to go to school by CAMFED Association members and community initiatives.

  • 181K

    Of these, 180,538 students have been supported to go to school directly by CAMFED Association members. Often using profits from their businesses, CAMFED Association members support on average 3 more children to go to school - multiplying the impact of their education.

  • 96K

    and 96,271 students have been supported to go to primary and secondary school through community initiatives. This includes parents, teachers, education officials and traditional leaders, who rally resources to support even more children to go to school.

  • 17.5K

    Our movement in Zambia has grown to 17,549 CAMFED Association members helping to form the largest network of its kind in Africa. Young women educated with CAMFED support spearhead our programs and help more vulnerable children to go to school.

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Dorcas grew up in rural Zambia and was forced to drop out of school due to poverty. But then a CAMFED Trained Teacher Mentor identified Dorcas as needing financial support and helped her return to school. Today, Dorcas is a university graduate, agriculture expert, and entrepreneur, determined to plow back the benefits of her education to her community.


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Together we are breaking the cycle of poverty


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