Zambia in 2015
  • Area: 752,618 km2
  • Capital: Lusaka
  • 4th largest copper producing nation in the world
  • Population: 16,212,000
  • GDP per capita: $4,113
  • Unemployment rate: 7.85%
  • Youth unemployment: 25.6%
  • Informality: 84.6%
  • Poverty: 60%
  • Housing backlog: 1.000.000

How Zambia is greening its way out of poverty

Situated in south-central Africa and bordering eight countries, peaceful and stable Zambia is approximately three times the size of the UK. Endowed with natural resources such as copper and hydropower, it ranks among the top 10 fastest growing economies in Africa.

Growth, however, has not had much positive impact for the majority of Zambian people who are still living below the poverty line, often surviving on less than U$ 1.25 per day. Additionally, growth industries such as mining and construction sectors have taken their toll on the environment (through land degradation, energy consumption and pollution).

Faced with unemployment – especially among women and youth, high levels of inequality and poverty, as well as a housing backlog and a number of environmental challenges, the government of Zambia has launched a Green Jobs Programme that promotes green technologies in the construction sector. As the world discusses actions to mitigate climate change at the COP 21 in Paris, beneficiaries and stakeholders of the Programme explained to ILO News the impact that green jobs can have on Zambia's future and its people.

Building green, boosting jobs, improving lives

By greening the economy, the issue of poverty can be sorted out."

Dr. Albert Malama, Dean of the Built Environment School - Copperbelt University
Video story

The ABC of building green

  1. A five point checklist on how to build green

The change makers

Focus on women: The renewable power of green skills

You may not appreciate the power of light until you are in darkness. For poor urban and rural households, having access to light is life changing – enabling children to study, helping enterprises to operate more business hours, combating crime and so forth."

Tapera Muzira/ILO Chief Technical Advisor, Zambia Green Jobs Programme
For the women in the Kalulushi compound in the Copperbelt Province, building their own houses with green technologies wasn't enough. Like most people in Zambia's rural areas, they are off the grid. Without electricity, families must either spend hours in the dark or use dangerous, expensive alternatives such as kerosene, candles and charcoal. As part of the Zambia Green Jobs Programme, Emmery Matongo, Georgina Kunda and a few others were trained in solar panel assembly and installation. Not only this changed the daily lives of all villagers, it also opened new livelihood prospects for women.
Video story

A Greening momentum

As the knowledge on the benefits of green building technologies is spreading, society mindset towards sustainable development is changing too. Hear the voices of workers, students and employers explaining the benefits of a green path to development.

Among my friends and my family I've noticed there's a need and a change to go green."

Yetambuyu Imasiku, 22 years old, Student in urban and regional planning - Copperbelt University

The Zambia Green Jobs Programme – a four-year partnership between the Zambian Government and a team of United Nations agencies led by the ILO, and funded by Finland – promotes the development of sustainable enterprises by boosting competitiveness and business growth thanks to green technologies. It works with local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and partners with multinational companies that are investing in Zambia.

It is beneficial. It's good for environment protection and it's affordable."

Shemena Logan, SME Director SME
It uses the construction sector to shape a sustainable development model which:
  • promotes sustainable enterprises,
  • creates more and better jobs,
  • protects people
  • preserves the quality of the environment

5000 green jobs by 2017

I upgraded my skills. It will be easier for me to find a job."

Davies Bweupe, Construction Worker
By 2017, the Programme will create at least 5,000 decent green jobs – particularly for young people –, enhance the quality of at least 2,000 green jobs in MSMEs, and improve the incomes and livelihoods of at least 8,000 households.

More broadly, the Programme aims to:
  • Increase the appreciation among the Zambian public in general, and among the construction industry stakeholders in particular, of green technologies.
  • Refine the regulation that stimulates demand among private and public housing developers for environmentally friendly building materials, products and methods.
  • Enhance the capacity of MSMEs to effectively participate in the construction of eco-friendly buildings by using and delivering green products and services.

We registered a company and we want to start making solar panels on a large scale. We are going to have jobs making solar panels. This will help us escape from poverty."

Emmery Matongo, mother of seven, Construction and solar panel trainee
This is in line with Zambia’s global commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Goal 8 on economic growth and jobs, and on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

We have to transform this knowledge into other SMEs and other communities."

Munjunka Shadrick, Construction Site Manager
Following this first phase, the Ministry of Finance is conducting an Employment Projection and Green Jobs Assessment in key economic sectors - including energy, waste management, agriculture and tourism - to increase the scale and impact of inclusive green growth while diversifying the economy away from copper mining.

Why go green ?

  1. "Greening will bring about disruption so we all want to be on the good side of this disruption."

    Chimuka Nyanga, Vice Chair of the steering Committee of the Zambia Green Jobs Programme

  1. Housing backlog, youth unemployment, informality: Green jobs can help addressing these issues in Zambia.

    Alexio Musindo, ILO Country office director for Zambia

  1. "Sustainable development should be economically, environmentally and socially sustainable."

    Timo Olkkonen, ambassador of Finland in Zambia

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