CRS History in Zambia
Zambia, home to some 10 million people, is sparsely populated with vast agricultural lands. Rural areas host the greatest concentration of extremely poor families. A variety of shocks over the past two decades — including floods and severe droughts — has eroded communities' resilience and contributed to widespread poverty. A fifth of Zambian household rarely have enough to eat. CRS' work extends to remote areas.
In the first five years of operation in Zambia, one in every ten Zambians received CRS related support.
The rising incidence of HIV and AIDS only compounds the problems, severely affecting the country's development. Adult infection rates are estimated at more than 15 percent, and Zambia has the world's second highest proportion of children orphaned by AIDS.
Many farmers have an unhealthy focus on maize, though a dependence on rain-fed farming makes the crop unsustainable in many parts of the country. In the past, Zambia relied on revenue from the sale of copper to subsidize agricultural production and other industries. However, the combined effects of falling copper prices in the 1980s and 1990s, high oil prices and the collapse of the few existing industries have strained economic development and deteriorated living conditions of the average Zambian.
Catholics make up about 25 percent of Zambia's population, and the Church has provided services including moral guidance, health and education since early missionaries arrived in the country more than 100 years ago. More recently, the Church has played a pivotal role in socioeconomic and political transformation in Zambia, part of a commitment to justice and peace, particularly for the country’s poorest people.
CRS established an office in Zambia in 1999, as a sub-office of CRS Zimbabwe. In 2001, CRS established an official country program in Zambia, which has since then has grown to include 84 staff.