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Ireland in Zambia: About Zambia; Irish Aid and Fellowship Training Programme

Learn more about the historical relationship between Zambia and Ireland and the Embassy’s work in Zambia

Irish links with Zambia stretch back over a century. Long before an official bilateral aid programme was established and well before Zambia achieved its independence in 1964, Irish missionary societies were among the main providers of services in health and education in what was then Northern Rhodesia. Many of Zambia’s leading citizens received their education at schools run by Irish missionaries, and many of Zambia’s hospitals throughout much of the 20th century were in the care of Irish missionary sisters.

However, diplomatic relations between Zambia and Ireland were established in 1965, and Ireland opened a Development Cooperation Office in Lusaka in 1980, when Zambia became a partner country for the Irish Aid programme. The Mission received full Embassy status in 2006.

The key goals of the Mission in Zambia are:

  • Maintaining Bilateral Relations (Ambassador also holds secondary credentials for Namibia)
  • Promoting trade between Zambia and Ireland
  • Providing consular & visa services
  • Administering the aid programme and
  • Engaging with the Irish community in Zambia

The main activity of Ireland in Zambia up until now has been the Aid programme (Irish Aid) which is guided by the Country Strategy Paper 2013 – 17. Currently, Ireland is slowly increasing its trade profile with Zambia as part of its broader Africa Strategy.

Connecting with our diaspora

Connecting with the Irish diaspora, including those interested in the Irish connection for enhancing business networks or promoting and maintaining Irish culture in their communities, is a part of our work. We’re committed to recognising the efforts of the Irish Community in Zambia by engaging with them both practically and strategically.

Living and Working in Zambia

Anyone interested in living and working in Zambia should in the first instance make enquiries through the nearest Zambian High Commission. In addition the Department of Immigration has a comprehensive website detailing the types of permits available, the cost and the requirements necessary for obtaining one.

Prospective employers are obligated to apply to the Department of Immigration for the issue of work permits for individuals who have been offered employment in Zambia. The Zambia Department of Immigration has its headquarters in Lusaka, the country's capital city, with regional offices in all the nine provinces of Zambia.

Business and Investment Opportunities

Zambia is encouraging private investment in all major productive sectors including agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism. Several institutions have been established to provide information and assist in promoting investment and trade. These include the Zambia Development Agency and the Zambia Investment Centre among a few. Individuals interested in these opportunities should contact the nearest Zambian Embassy or this embassy to ascertain exactly what regulations need to be complied with.


Zambia, a land-locked country 10 times the size of Ireland is a unified and peaceful country with vast land and water resources. It has one of the world’s lowest population densities and shares borders with eight countries. Zambia played a leading role in Southern African politics especially under its first president, Kenneth Kaunda, one of the elder statesmen of independent Africa.

Zambia remains one of Africa’s poorest countries: ranked 141 out of 187 countries on the UN Human Development Index 2014 (Ireland ranked 5th) life expectancy is 58.1 years at birth. Over two-thirds of the population live below the national poverty line of less than a dollar a day.


More than one million people in Zambia are living with HIV while approximately 630,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS (prevalence rate is about 14.3 percent of 15-49 year olds). Women are particularly severely affected. In the age group 15-19, HIV prevalence is six times higher for girls than for boys. The burden of care for the sick is also increasingly falling on women and children.


Zambia became independent from Great Britain in October 1964 (celebrating its Golden Jubilee October 2014), and Dr Kaunda, became its first President (1964 - 1991). During which time Zambia dropped from being one of the wealthiest to one of the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa in Gross Domestic terms.

Zambia was declared a one-party state in 1972 until 1990 when multi-party politics was introduced with presidential elections held the following year and won by the opposition Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) under Dr. Frederick Chiluba. Dr Chiluba ruled the next ten years when he stepped down having earlier won re-election in 1996. Zambia’s Constitution limits the presidential term to two five year terms in office.

Other MMD presidents to have ruled Zambia include; Levy Mwanawasa (2001 to 2008, died in office) and subsequent bye-elections were won by Rupiah Band (2008 to 2011). 2011 presidential elections saw MMD lose to the opposition Patriotic Front under Michael Sata who ruled for three years (2011 – 2014) and died in October 2014. A Presidential election was held in January 2015 and PF retained the presidency under H.E. Edgar Chagwa Lungu who is expected to finish the current term which runs upto 2016 when the next elections are expected to be held.


Zambia is situated in the heart of the African sub-continent, untainted by commercial tourist development, but nevertheless well-equipped to allow visitors to experience the warmth, excitement, challenges and adventures of the real Africa.

The country's prime attraction is the spectacular, breathtaking Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River in Livingstone. Not only do the falls provide unmatched scenery as the water plunges into the depths of the gorge, but are also the setting for a multitude of adrenaline pumping activities, like white-water rafting, bungee jumping from the 364ft (111m) high bridge, elephant-back safaris, jet-boating through the rapids among others.

Zambia also offers dozens of superb game parks stocked with a profusion of birds and wildlife. Chief among the parks is South Luangwa National Park, centred on the most intact major river system in Africa, which hosts a huge concentration of game. The legendary 'Zambian walking safari' originated in this park. Lovers of the outdoors cannot fail to find everything and more to satisfy them in the wetlands and wilderness of Zambia.

Irish Aid has a long history of support to Zambia which stretches back more than forty years to 1972. During this time the development context in Zambia has undergone significant change, and so too has the framework that guides Ireland’s contribution.

Irish Aid has been providing support to selected civil society organisations in different programmes ranging from health, education, social protection, governance and gender. Irish Aid has demonstrated strong capacity to provide technical and financial support in Zambia using government structures, systems and procedures.

Working in a harmonised way and aligning support with government systems has helped Irish Aid to focus on strategic issues. It has also helped ensure that technical assistance and capacity building was targeted to strategic partners in Zambia.

Currently, Irish Aid is guided by a strategic planning document, the Country Strategy Paper 2013 – 17 whose core areas of work include:

  • Quality Education for All
  • Better Governance and Accountability
  • Improved livelihoods and better nutrition

The goal of the programme is to contribute to the reduction of chronic poverty, vulnerability and inequality. Two outcomes are identified: increased resilience of vulnerable poor households and improved access to quality and equitable services; and these are guided by four objectives:

  • improved livelihoods, health status, food and nutrition security of poor households with a particular focus on women and vulnerable groups;
  • strengthened participation of men and women in the demand for quality basic services;
  • strengthened pro-poor policy implementation and utilisation of resources; and
  • improved delivery of quality education services;

The strategy integrates gender equality, environment, HIV/AIDS mitigation and good governance in its implementation.

While it is too early in the CSP to expect significant outcome level results from identified baseline positions, nonetheless some notable household level results are being evidenced in the national social protection programme which Irish Aid has been supporting for many years; These include significant reduction in the poverty gap, increased food and nutrition security at household level and significant productive impacts and local economic multiplier effects.

The strategy is consistent with Zambia’s own sixth national development plan (now Revised Sixth National Development Plan) as well as the aims of the Joint Assistance Strategy for Zambia.

Ireland is an active member of the European Union Heads of Mission group and is currently a member of the lead Troika of the Co-operating Partners Group and will assume the chair of this group in January 2015.


  • The programme aims at increasing access to specialist knowledge in health, education, gender, governance, livelihoods and nutrition among others for Government Ministries and institutions and civil society organisations supported by Irish Aid;
  • Fellowships are offered to candidates for Postgraduate Diploma/Master’s level study in higher education institutions in Ireland or in the region;
  • Fellowship recipients are committed, on completion of their training, to return home to resume work and put their acquired skills into practice for the benefit of the wider community;
  • The participating countries are Zambia, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Timor Leste, Uganda, Vietnam and Palestine;
  • Fellowship applications are invited from partner organisations working in collaboration with the Irish Aid programme in-country;
  • Only candidates nominated by an Irish Aid partner organisation invited to participate in the scheme are eligible to apply;
  • The closing date for receipt of applications to the Embassy of Ireland in Zambia and other participating countries is 30 November each year.

*Note that Irish Aid does not accept unsolicited applications for scholarships. Always lookout for a notice on this site or you will be notified through your organisation.


To be eligible for an Irish Aid fellowship applicants must:

  • Be a Zambian citizen;
  • Reside and currently work in Zambia;
  • Have achieved the necessary academic and/or professional standard to be accepted onto a postgraduate course in a higher education institute in Ireland or within Zambia’s neighbouring region;
  • Have a minimum of three years work experience;
  • Have identified a relevant course in a higher education institution in Ireland or within Zambia’s neighbouring region;
  • Be applying to commence a new qualification and not be seeking funding for one already commenced;
  • Be able to demonstrate a strong commitment to Zambia’s socio-economic development;
  • Be able to take up the fellowship in the academic year for which it is offered.
  • Be working for a partner Irish Aid is currently supporting

Each year, Irish Aid revises the application form. Make sure you download and use the appropriate Application Form.

For more information on the programme, you can download the FTP Information Booklet.