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At UNFPA in Zambia, we envision a world with; zero unmet need for family planning, zero maternal deaths, and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices. We work towards this futuristic but attainable goal for women and young people – every year.

The year 2020 saw the culmination of significant milestones, as well as challenges towards fulfilling sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. During the said year, member states commemorated the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, which adopted a forward-looking political declaration on “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism”. The  same year also marked the beginning of the Decade of Action to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, calling for accelerated sustainable solutions to the world's development challenges.  Zambia, as part of the global community, confronted one of the worst health challenges in history - the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNFPA in Zambia, was part of these historic moments, making significant contributions in sustaining partnerships with national and international partners in advancing the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) agenda. UNFPA’s contribution could not have been more critical as we delivered high-impact sexual and reproductive health results for women and young people. Population data remained central to our work, including gender equality and human rights, as we were striving to leave no one behind.

Our collective achievements for 2020 with the Government of Zambia and other partners are presented in this summary report, that UNFPA is pleased to share with you. Thank you to each and every partner working with UNFPA, for contributing to the achievement of these results.

Looking forward, in 2021 and beyond, UNFPA, as part of the broader UN family in Zambia, remains firmly committed to partnering with the Government of the Republic of Zambia in addressing the national priorities outlined in the seventh National Development Plan, under the umbrella of the UN Sustainable Development Partnership Framework (UNSDPF) and UNFPA’s 8th Country Programme of Cooperation with the Government of Zambia.  The focus is on the unfinished business of the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA), including building resilience and adaptability as we continue to collectively deliver for women and young people – especially the adolescent girl - amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are indeed indebted to the donors who support UNFPA and who remain committed to advancing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people. UNFPA and partners reaffirm their commitment to address the unfinished business of the ICPD agenda.


In 2020, UNFPA continued to support the Government of Zambia in the implementation of the National Family Planning Scale Up Plan (2013 to 2020), which aimed to increase the national contraceptive prevalence from 33% to 58% and reduce unmet need for Family Planning from 22% to 14% by the year 2020.

Key Results

  • 1,990,354 Couple Years of Protection (i.e. 1 year of protection against unintended pregnancy) were generated through UNFPA’s procurement of 60% of family planning commodity needs for the public sector.
  • 84,447 additional users of modern contraceptives were reached, bringing the total number of women using a modern method of contraception in Zambia to 1,530,000 as at the end of 2020.
  • 605,000 unintended pregnancies and 133,000 unsafe abortions were averted, due to the use of modern methods of contraception.
  • Service delivery point stock-out of family planning commodities was reduced, with proportion of service delivery points with at least 7 essential medicines and commodities increasing from 90% in 2018 to 92% in 2020, due to UNFPA support for last mile distribution of essential health commodities.

Other key milestones by UNFPA and the Government of Zambia included the countrywide roll-out of subcutaneous Depot Medroxy Progesterone Acetate (DMPA-SC) self-injection to reach marginalized and hard to reach populations; improved policy environment for private sector participation and Total Market Approach (TMA) to increase points of access for contraceptives; as well as capacity building of nurses training schools to be able to deliver quality pre-service training on Family Planning method mix.

READ MORE: Addressing Unmet Need for Family Planning Amid COVID-19 Pandemic


In 2020, UNFPA continued to support the Government of Zambia towards reducing maternal mortality to 100/100,000 live births by 2021, as outlined in the National Health Strategic Plan (2017 – 2021). Currently, maternal mortality rate stands at 278/100,000 live births (2018 ZDHS), which is still unacceptably high. Specific strategic interventions included support towards the continuity of essential maternal and newborn health services during the 2020 first wave of COVID-19 pandemic; provision of basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC), midwifery training and mentorship; prevention and treatment of obstetric fistula; maternal and perinatal death surveillance and response (MPDSR); and other essential sexual and reproductive health services to ensure “no woman dies giving life”.

Key Results

  • 386 health care providers received training in provision of emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC), while 69 nurses/midwives were recruited with support from UNFPA to help mitigate staff shortages during the COVID-19 outbreak and ensure continued provision of essential sexual and reproductive health services in under-served rural areas.
  • 1,000 maternal deaths were averted due to use of modern methods of contraception. Other interventions that contributed to this result included continuity of essential SRHR services during the 2020 first wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 101 women with obstetric fistula underwent successful surgical repair, thus restoring their dignity.
  • The proportion of health facilities providing adolescent friendly services increased from 57% to 62%, resulting in 48,187 adolescents receiving sexual and reproductive health information and services essential to address adolescent pregnancies and HIV among others.

READ MORE: The Inspiring Role of a Midwife Amid COVID-19


In 2020, UNFPA continued to use disaggregated data and evidence to support gender sensitive interventions, taking into account how gender norms and roles can obstruct or advance progress towards sexual and reproductive health outcomes. This includes support towards the operationalization of the Anti-Gender Based Violence (GBV) Act No. 1 of 2011, which provides for the protection of victims of GBV including the prevention and management of the same; as well as addressing harmful cultural practices such as child marriage. 

Key Results

  • 7,125 adolescents at risk of child marriage graduated from life-skills mentorship programmes in UNFPA supported districts.
  • 141 traditional leaders initiated the implementation of girl-centred programmes to address teenage pregnancy and child marriage in their chiefdoms.
  • UNFPA also continued to integrate gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response within humanitarian responses, including in COVID-19 prevention as well as response to flood and drought situations in target districts.

READ MORE: Accelerating Progress on Ending Child Marriage in Zambia


Humanitarian Action

To ensure continuity of sexual and reproductive health services amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as in humanitarian settings, UNFPA - as part of the UN Zambia joint support to the Government of Zambia - intensified partnerships with line Ministries and implementing partners to facilitate access to health and protection services among target populations as well as frontline workers. Key results included the following:

  • 6,886 vulnerable adolescent girls and women received humanitarian support (dignity and mama kits) as part of the response to emergencies occasioned by severe drought, floods and COVID-19.
  • 279 health care providers had their capacity strengthened in provision of appropriate COVID-19 infection prevention and control among frontline workers, particularly in anticipation of the second wave of the pandemic in the last quarter of 2020.
  • 88 oxygen concentrators procured with support from the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) were temporarily deployed for use in COVID-19 response at the height of the second wave to support the critical shortage of Oxygen in COVID-19 response at health facility level.

Further, UNFPA scaled up support towards the procurement and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, as well as health systems strengthening where needed.

READ MORE: Dignity kits meet hygiene needs of women and girls amid COVID-19 pandemic

Harnessing Data for Development  

In 2020, UNFPA Zambia continued to provide both technical and financial support to the Government of Zambia, through the Ministry of National Development Planning, the Zambia Statistics Agency and the Ministry of Health, to scale up national capacity to generate and utilize statistical data and evidence, in order to inform national policy and planning. Specific milestones for the year included the following:

  • More than 4 national assessments supported by UNFPA to contribute to the body of knowledge around COVID-19; as well as to inform national programming processes including the 8th National Development Plan.
  • With UNFPA support, the Ministry of National Development Planning officially launched the National Population Policy and implementation plan. The policy provides national guidance for integrating population and development in national planning processes.
  • A comprehensive geospatial census database was designed for the Zambia Statistics Agency in collaboration with senior GIS experts in the agency, thus improving the overall data management process for Zambia Statistics Agency 

UNFPA Zambia Representative (R) handing over high-tech computer equipment to the University if Zambia Assistant Dean, for use at the Center of Excellence for Geograpic Information System(GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS), as part of ongoing support to enhance the generation and use of geospatial information under the GRID3 project
UNFPA Zambia Representative (R) handing over high-tech computer equipment to the University of Zambia Assistant Dean, for use at the Center of Excellence for Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS), as part of ongoing support to enhance the generation and use of geospatial information under the GRID3Project


UNFPA Zambia sincerely thanks the donors listed below, who contributed or who are contributing to the overall resource envelope for UNFPA’s 8th Country Programme with the Government of Zambia (2016-2022)