A postcard from Zambia:

How WFP is supporting innovations to disrupt hunger.

@ WFP/Andy Higgins.
WFP is helping the Government to set up 71 school hydroponic gardens to improve school meals.

Zambia achieved lower middle-income status in 2011 following years of impressive economic performance. Yet, more than half of its 17.8 million people live below the poverty line. The deteriorating economy, coupled with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, threatens government efforts to deliver social services, alleviate poverty, and achieve zero hunger.

In the last decade, the country has suffered from the impact of climate change, with frequent, prolonged dry spells, extreme high temperatures, and floods that have undermined food security and threatened the livelihoods of many smallholder farming households. Smallholders are the country’s largest population of food producers. They are responsible for up to 90 percent of the food produced in Zambia.

Under the Zambia Country Strategic Plan (CSP) 2019–2024, WFP provides food assistance to vulnerable and food-insecure people, including on-demand logistics support during emergencies. WFP also implements integrated nutrition and smallholder farmer support interventions in food-insecure areas, and helps strengthen the capacity of the Government to implement national programmes and systems that contribute to zero hunger and improved nutrition.

Hydroponics in Zambia: Meet young Daniel, the hydroponics expert

Like millions of teenagers around the world, Daniel has a dream: to help make the world a better place. At the age of 16, Daniel recognized one of Zambia's most significant challenges: food systems – the paths that food travels from production to plate – are not robust enough to meet the population's needs.

"When I grow up, I want to use technology to modernize the way people farm. New technologies like hydroponics can help farmers improve their yields and grow nutritious food. Zambian farmers depend on rain-fed crops, but crops can be grown each month with this system."
Daniel, Student
© WFP/Andy Higgins
Daniel outside his homemade hydroponic site at his home in Kitwe.

Daniel first learnt about hydroponics when the World Food Programme (WFP) came to his school to set up a hydroponics garden collaborating with the Ministry of Education. These gardens provide nutritious meals to students throughout the year without the threat of climate shocks - making a difference to children's health, nutrition and education.  With the hope of tackling Zambia’s food system problem and growing nutritious food for his family in a sustainable way, Daniel decided to take the knowledge he learnt from school and replicate the hydroponics site at home.

“When WFP first came to my school, I thought 'wow, these people are amazing'. I never thought you could grow plants without soil. I said I have to try to do this at home. I knew I could do it. I started trying to replicate it, until finally I built my own greenhouse.”
© WFP/Andy Higgins
Daniel's homemade hydroponic site, where he grows vegetables for his family.

Watch here Daniel’s story in hydroponics


WFP’s Post-Harvest Loss (PHL) Venture: How WFP beans roll into Eswatini from Zambia

Mweendo heads Cassia Agro, one of the 13 aggregators and farmer cooperatives the World Food Programme works with in Zambia to procure cowpeas and beans for its programmes in the southern Africa region. Based in Monze district, Mweendo works with WFP to procure pulses from smallholder farmers and to supply airtight hermetic bags – a low-cost, post-harvest innovation that reduces food losses by up to 40 percent in the country.

© WFP/Catherine Zulu
Mweendo has worked with WFP to provide hermetic bags to over 13,000 smallholder farmers.

It gives me peace and comfort to know that the food we are providing to WFP supports vulnerable people. It’s a privilege to support their programmes.” says Mweendo.

Food is procured from Mweendo under WFP’s global commodity management platform, allowing and purchased in advance of project requests. This reduces delivery lead times and helps aggregators and farmers to plan their production better.

“The airtight bags help smallholder farmers to store the crops perfectly until they sell their crops. They keep crops perfect even after years of storage.”
Mweendo, Business Owner
© WFP/Sophie Smeulders
This year, WFP procured pulses from aggregators in Zambia to support operations in Angola and Eswatini.

In Eswatini, the beans were provided as part of WFP’s emergency response in the Lubombo region, providing monthly food distributions to nearly 35,000 people struggling to put food on the table due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, limited job opportunities, and high food prices.

Lungelo is one of the people who received 5kg of beans from Zambia and 10 kg of rice, and half a litre of cooking oil. He became the head of his household at 15 years old when his mother left their family to pursue a job. He dropped out of school to care for his 78-year-old grandmother living with tuberculosis and his 13-year-old sister.

There were days we would go to bed on empty stomachs to avoid asking for food from our neighbours.” he says.

Lungelo found a seasonal job at a local sugar factory, but this didn’t cover all his family’s needs. Now, the food he receives from WFP is helping him to support his family.

With my seasonal job and the food from WFP, we can lead better and decent lives. We received the beans when we needed them the most. Now, I don’t have to worry about my family going to bed hungry.” he says.

His sister, Tengetile, is a big fan of the beans. “I can’t believe these beans come from Zambia; it’s so far. I will carry five beans seeds to school to show my friends, and maybe we can plant them during our science project on germination.” she says.

Our teacher told us that beans are body-building food. I can get the same nutrients found in meat. So even if I don’t get to eat meat all the time, I will still be healthy.” she adds.

Read about more innovations that are improving people's life in Zambia