About Zambia

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Named after the Zambezi River, Zambia is a landlocked country in central-southern Africa, and it is surrounded by Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zaire, and Zimbabwe. It is roughly the size of Texas and covers 2.3 percent of Africa’s total area. Much of Zambia lies on a plateau with an average height between 3,500 and 4,500 feet (1,066 to 1,371 meters). The huge valleys of the upper Zambezi and its major tributaries, including the Kafue and Luangwa rivers, cut into this plateau. 

The climate consists of three distinct seasons: a warm, wet season from November to April; a cool, dry season from May to August; and a hot, dry season in September and October. The relatively high altitude tempers the humidity, providing a generally pleasant climate. The diversity of climatic conditions also allows for the cultivation of a wide range of crops.

Zambia is divided into nine provinces and 72 districts. There are 73 ethno-linguistic groups, the predominant ones being Nyanja, Tonga, Lozi, Bemba, Luvale, Kaonde and Lunda. English is the official language throughout the country; however, in rural areas, it is common to find those who do not speak English. Most Zambians are Christians, and they belong to a wide variety of denominations. Other major religions include Hinduism, Islam, and indigenous beliefs. Ninety-nine percent of the population consists of Black Africans, the rest being European, Asian, and mixed origin. Half the population is 15 years old or younger. At 36 years, Zambia’s life expectancy is one of the world’s lowest.

Zambia currently has one of the highest incidences of HIV/ AIDS in Africa. In a country with a population of 10 million, the Zambia Ministry of Health reports that an estimated 950,000 adults and 70,000 children are currently infected with the HIV virus. Approximately 16 percent of men and women between the ages of 15 and 49 are HIV positive. More than 75 percent of Zambian AIDS cases come from sexually active young adults and children under five who were infected by their mothers at birth.

My Job Description
RED Volunteers work in six provinces to support the Ministry of Education (MoE) staff at the Zone Center School (ZCS) and Zonal Resource Center (ZRC) to improve the quality of, and access to, education in all types of schools within the zone. Together with counterparts, Volunteers assist in implementing educational initiatives, such as the "Learning at Taonga Market" interactive radio instruction program, zone-based teacher trainings and other continuing professional development opportunities, school monitoring visits, community literacy classes, and school clubs for HIV/AIDS, girls' empowerment, and environmental awareness. They also engage with interested rural communities to develop and support their education infrastructure through sensitization and training of parent community school committees. Some Volunteers are placed at the district level and focus on strengthening the capacity of the MoE in the district.

Living Conditions
Most Volunteers live in earthen houses lighted by kerosene lamps. Meals are cooked over wood or charcoal. Typically, Volunteer sites are in villages where there is neither plumbing nor electricity. You will have your own mud brick/ thatch roof house, pit latrine, outdoor cooking area, and shower area. Drinking/washing water may need to be carried from as far as 30 minutes away by foot. Some sites will be very isolated and the closest Volunteer may be 40 kilometers or more away.

Your access to Western-style foods may be very limited, but you will soon become familiar, and even enamored with, nshima (cornmeal porridge), cabbage, and kapenta (fish), as well as other staple foods like local leaf sauces and smoked fish. Fruits such as mangoes, guavas, and especially bananas, can be found commonly everywhere, but mangoes are seasonal; vegetable variety is generally good, but can be seasonally difficult, and meat is not readily available for Volunteers while at their site.

 All Volunteers will be expected to travel in Zambia using local means of transportation like your Zambian peers (foot, bicycle, bus, van, or train) from your first days of training until the end of your service. Rural travel is very limited and difficult due to the condition of the roads and public transportation. Every trip is an adventure. Transportation from your post to your provincial capital may be sporadic, may take a full day or more, and will generally be crowded and dusty. Volunteers may find it necessary to travel on trucks carrying produce or livestock or to hitch rides on one of the district or community vehicles. It may take two days or more by crowded public transportation to reach the capital city, Lusaka. Some Volunteers walk or ride their bikes up to 50 kilometers (31 miles) or more to catch a ride at a main road. Some roads are not easily passable by bicycle in the rainy season. All Volunteers will be provided with a bicycle and helmet, which they must wear when riding. Riding motorcycles is prohibited.

The above information is taken from the Peace Corps Zambia Welcome Book. Please refer to the Welcome Book for more extensive information.

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