UNFF has been operating in Lusaka, Zambia since 2010. We currently have 28 children and 22 mothers in our program.

Wastepickers in Zambia

68% of Zambians live below the national poverty line and unemployment is widespread. Due to its dependence on the mining industry, the Zambian economy suffered greatly from the 2009 economic depression. Furthermore, the HIV epidemic, while in decline in Zambia, still has an estimated prevalence rate of 13.5% among adults. These socio-economic conditions affect all genders and age groups, but they disproportionately affect women and youth. Many disenfranchised families turn to wastepicking at dump sites as a source of employment (in recycling) and dangerously, for food.

The working and living conditions of wastepickers are unhygienic and dangerous. At dumpsites, wastepickers are often exposed to raw sewage and toxic chemicals while they scavenge recyclable materials to sell and food to eat. This exposure can cause disease and injury. Families that rely on wastepicking are impoverished, malnourished, and vulnerable. Malnutrition is an underlying factor in over half of childhood deaths. Many children who eat food from the dumpsites suffer diarrheal diseases, which can cause death. Housing is another danger at the dumpsites in Zambia. One-room houses are often poorly constructed and lack access to toilets, running water or electricity. Overall these conditions are dreadful. Childhood mortality is very high and malnourishment and truancy has a major impact on the physical, cognitive and emotional development of the surviving children.


The mission of the chapter is to improve the lives of the unemployed, undernourished children and their mothers, who live in dumpsites or inhabit the neighboring dwellings (slum areas). The UNFF Zambia Chapter specifically targets wastepickers living in the Chingwere District of Lusaka as well as several orphanages throughout Zambia. UNFF was able to identify these beneficiaries after partnering with Bwafwano, a community-based organization that had been in the area for over six years.

The UNFF currently aids 30 families in the Chingwere District. Most of these families in the program are female-headed households — there are 30 children and 24 mothers in the program. We have enrolled the children at Mapalo Trust School. The UNFF pays for primary schooling for the children and provides a monthly bag of maize meal to each household to supplement the families’ nutritional needs. Additionally, the UNFF subsidizes lunch during school for all students in the program, which provides them a healthy balanced diet.

Overall, the UNFF-sponsored students are improving in school and on their performance reports. The children range from Grade 1 to Grade 7. Three of them will soon take their Grade 7 examinations—two girls, one boy. If they score high enough marks, then these three will go to Secondary school. Last year, two out of four UNFF-sponsored children were able to graduate to high school. The UNFF’s Children Scholarship Program provides financial support in secondary school for these most outstanding students.

Unfortunately, some children struggle to leave the dumpsites and stay in school. Recently, the UNFF had to remove a student, John, from the program because of his continued absenteeism. His younger sister, whose twin brother died due to food poisoning after eating food from the dumpsite, replaced him.

We have an active microlending program, in which the mothers have started small businesses, including jewelry making.

We have also completed two drinking water projects: one in the village of Ngwerere and one in the village of Kabanana. Our program there is at a critical juncture — we would now like to see the women become independent and support themselves and their families. To enable this, UNFF purchased an Agricultural Plot and provided training on how to raise chickens, pigs and crops. The construction of the pigsty is now complete. The women have also begun plantation of vegetables on the agricultural plot.

To date, the women have successfully planted onion and Chinese cabbage. With the coming rainy season, there are plans to plant Maize as well. Additionally, the pigsty is almost finished now and will have 6 different compartments. This is critical because the women will be able to generate more income from selling piglets than produce.

The team and women in Zambia are excited about the progress that has been made. The roofing is done and the process of plastering the walls is underway. The completion of the agricultural project will be an enormous accomplishment for the women in Zambia, and the beginning to a self-sustaining future.

In 2014, on the recommendation of Mercy Kids, another Non-Governmental Organization active in Zambia, the Lusungu Children’s Home in Chingola, near the northern border with Congo, was selected as the beneficiary of a capital water project.

A class photo with our sponsored children in Zambia
A class photo with our sponsored children in Zambia

For detailed information about UNFF Projects in Zambia, please visit the Projects section of this website.

Project Staff

Project Manager, Rabecca Machiya, leads the UNFF team in Zambia, along with field coordinator, Kangwa Chewe.

Project Manager, Rebecca Machiya, delivers a loan check to a sponsored mother
Project Manager, Rebecca Machiya (left), delivers a loan check to a sponsored mother
Kangwa Chewe, Field Coordinator
Kangwa Chewe, Field Coordinator

Partnerships and Stakeholders

The UNFF Zambia Chapter works with several local partners, including:

  • Ministry of Agriculture
  • Ministry of Community Development
  • Kabanana Orphanage
  • Lusungu Children’s Home
  • Bwafwano Organization

Personal Stories

Beatrice Mwangala and her children

Beatrice Mwangala has two children in the UNFF program, Imakando Stenge and Mwangala Stenge. She is married with seven children, five of whom are now going to school. Her husband is not formally employed and usually digs latrine pits for neighbors for about $20USD, which he splits with a partner. In a good month he manages to dig about 3 latrines, so money is tight. In fact, they have been completely unable to send their youngest child to school due to lack of funds. Beatrice Mwangala and her family have been on the UNFF program since March 2011.

Family house and Toilet & Bathroom
Family house (left) & Toilet/Bathroom (right)
Previously they lived in a house made out of plastics, which was continuously infested with rats and mosquitoes. Inside the house they had made a demarcation for the parents bedroom and the rest of the family slept in the other room. During the rainy season the family would spend sleepless nights putting buckets/dishes in leaking areas. The children continuously suffered from colds and diarrhea, and the family was never able to provide three meals a day.

Mwangala and Imakando
The children – Mwangala (left) & Imakando (right)
Imakando and Mwangala used to spend most of their time in the dumpsite area where they would pick items of value like toys as well as food stuffs, which they would take home for the family to cook and consume. Stomach upsets and diarrhea were common. After an assessment, UNFF picked this family as one of its beneficiaries. Mwangala and Imakando were enrolled in a private school.

Vegetable Stall and Grocery shop
The first vegetable stall (left) & grocery shop (right)
UNFF began providing a 25 kg bag of maize meal every month to the family. Furthermore, Beatrice received entrepreneurship training and a K300 loan ($60 USD). After receiving this loan, Beatrice put a stall outside her home and started selling vegetables and charcoal. With this business she was able to earn K10 ($2) a day. This income, along with the monthly maize meal, is a tremendous contribution to the well-being of the family. Beatrice eventually upgraded her outside stall to a small grocery shop.

Beatrice has done well and has managed to repay back approximately 70% of her loan. Today Beatrice is a happy mother who plans to expand her business in her next loan cycle. She wants to order reed mats, rice and fish from Mongu for resell in Lusaka. She has managed to send her son to Mapalo Trust School to redo his Grade 9 and hopes to send her other children once she raises enough finances.


Expenses in 2014

Categories / ProjectsBreakdownAmount KwachaAmount US $ (@ K6.3/$)
ADMINTalk time / Internet Connection350.0058.33
School Feeding5,859.80976.63
Cooking Fee3,120.00520.00
Training / Agric602.00100.33
School Fees19,530.003,255.00
STAFF COMPENSATIONKangwa Quarterly15,600.002,600.00

For more information about our Zambia Chapter, please contact our Country Director for Zambia – Mr. Robbie Hemstreet (  : robert.hemstreet@unforgotten.org )