An overview of how the Global Compact on Refugees is being turned into action in Zambia.


An overview of how the Global Compact on Refugees is being turned into action in Zambia.

Mbavu, 27 and a Congolese refugee, owns a barbershop at Mantapala Settlement and uses solar power for his clippers. He also teaches reception grade pupils at the settlement school and wants to start a farming business.

Content of this page:
1. Description of the refugee situation
2. Zambia's response to the refugee situation
3. Steps towards meeting the objectives of the Compact

1. Description of the refugee situation

Where does the population of concern live?

In settlements and urban settings.

Meheba Settlement

  • Angolan: 6,054 Former Refugees
  • Burundi: 1,964 Refugees - 81 Asylum seekers  
  • DRC: 13,316 Refugees - 270 Asylum Seekers
  • Rwandan: 449 Refugees - 3,216 Former Refugees 
  • Somali: 482 Refugees - 2 Asylum Seekers
  • Other:  51 Refugees - 2 Asylum Seekers

Total : 16,261 Refugees - 255 Asylum Seekers - 6,054 Former Angolan Refugees - 3,216 Former Rwandan Refugees 

Mayukwayukwa Settlement

  • Angolan: 6,263 Former Refugees 
  • Burundi: 417 Refugees 
  • DRC: 8,529 Refugees - 20 Asylum Seekers 
  • Rwandan: 30 Refugees - 128 Former Refugees
  • Somali: 10 Refugees - 1 Asylum Seeker

Total : 8,986 Refugees - 21 Asylum Seekers - 6,263 Former Angolan Refugees - 128 Former Rwandan Refugees 

Self-Settled (28 Districts in 5 Provinces)

  • Angolan: 5,890 Former Refugees
  • Burundi: 400 Refugees 
  • DRC: 4,429 Refugees
  • Rwandan: 914 Former Refugees 
  • Somali: 700 Refugees 
  • Other: 71 Refugees 

Total: 5,600 Refugees - 5,890 Former Angolan Refugees - 914 Former Rwandan Refugees

Urban (Lusaka/Ndola)

  • Angolan: 1 Asylum Seeker - 9 Former Refugees 
  • Burundi: 2,651 Refugees - 1,187 Asylum Seekers
  • DRC: 7,021 Refugees - 2,105 Asylum Seekers 
  • Rwandan: 285 Refugees - 66 Asylum Seekers - 787 Former Refugees 
  • Somali : 2,177 Refugees - 244 Asylum Seekers
  • Other: 180 Refugees - 99 Asylum Seekers 

Total: 12,314 Refugees - 3,712 Asylum Seekers - 9 Former Angolan Refugees - 787 Former Rwandan Refugees

Nchelenge Mantampala

  • DRC: 15,068 Refugees
  • Other: 1 Asylum Seeker 

Find live data, information and fact sheets on the refugee situation in Zambia on the UNHCR Operational Portal as well as on Global Focus

2. Zambia's response to the refugee situation

Deployment of Government Officers in Refugee Settlements 

The Government deploys officials on Government payroll to work in refugee settlements in all sectors - water and sanitation, health, education, protection and security, agriculture and livelihoods, and community development.  To improve refugee responses across the country, all core ministries involved in refugee protection come under a single umbrella body, such that all refugee activities are under the core responsibility of the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees in the Ministry of Home Affairs and are supervised and coordinated by refugee officers. At present, 358 government officers work in the refugee settlements as teachers, nurses, clinical staff, midwives, agriculture extension officers, water, sanitation and hygiene experts, police officers, forestry officers, community development social welfare officers, livestock officers, environmental health technicians. 

The Government of Zambia aligns all refugee programmes to national, provincial and district planning – this includes budget cycles. As such, all funds from the central government meant for service provision in all sectors such as education, health, agriculture also benefit refugees.  

Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee

To consolidate Zambia’s response to the Congolese refugee situation and facilitate comprehensive responses in the newly established Mantapala Refugee Settlement (north), H.E, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the President of the Republic of Zambia appointed an Inter- Ministerial Steering Committee to provide guidance on the establishment of the refugee settlement in the northern province of Luapula. The Committee is comprised of eight Cabinet Ministers and it is chaired by Ministers of Home Affairs.  

National CRRF Steering Committee (NCSC) 

To coordinate and facilitate more comprehensive responses towards refugees while meeting needs of the host community populations, a National CRRF Steering Committee was appointed to implement the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) nationwide.,  

Provincial and Refugee District level 

The Provincial Minister’s Office in refugee-hosting provinces provides overall coordination of the implementation of the CRRF strategy at provincial level. The coordination is carried out by the Provincial Permanent Secretary who sits with all other Government Ministries in the Province. At District level, the District Commissioner’s (DC) office is an integral part of coordination structure to ensure successful implementation of the Framework, including planned and funded projects, under the guidance of the District Commissioner’s Office. 

Which partnerships have been strengthened or have been made possible thanks to the implementation of the Global Compact of Refugees?

The government of Zambia leads a ‘whole-of-government’ response to the refugee situation by engaging relevant government ministries, development and humanitarian actors. The Government also engages UN Agencies, international financial institutions, international and national NGOs, academia, traditional authorities, the private sector, faith-based organizations, refugees and host communities, and other members of the civil society. 

Line ministries and government agencies are engaged in the coordination of the CRRF; in so doing they include the refugee agenda in sector working groups at national and sub-national levels. 

Additionally, under the coordination of the UN Resident Coordination, UN agencies jointly contribute to the implementation of the UN Joint Partnership Framework, which aligns the UN’s humanitarian and development interventions by the UN with the priorities of the government. This ensures comprehensive and sustainable responses to refugee situations in line with the Global Compact.  

Partners involved

The key actors include:

Line ministries: Ministry of Home Affairs, Office of the Vice President, Ministry of Health, Ministry of General Education, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of National Development Planning, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Communications and Transport, Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) for business registration, Central Statistics Office (CSO), Rural Electrification Authority, Zambia Chambers of Commerce, Local Chiefdoms (Mumena Royal Establishment). 


International NGO’s: Caritas Czech Republic, Caritas Zambia, Self Help Action (SHA), World Vision, CARE, Good Neighbors, Action Africa Help- Zambia, Norwegian Church Aid, Plan International, Save the Children International, New Apostolic Church Relief Organization. 

Private Sector: Standard Chartered Bank, MTN, Airtel, NATSAVE, Madison Finance Company Limited (MFinance), Zanaco Bank, Syngenta- MRI Seed, ETG World, Zambia Seed Company Ltd, KickStart International, Forest Fruits Ltd, Others; Mining Companies (Kalumbila, Kansanshi and Lumwana) 

Academia: University of Zambia, Copperbelt University, Mulungushi University, Lusaka University, Rusangu University, Zambia Open University, Apex Medical University, Cavendish University, Catholic University, National Institute of Public Administration, Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies, Evelyn Hone College, Natural Resources Development College, Teachers Training Colleges, Trades and skills Training Schools.   

3. Steps towards meeting the objectives of the Compact

Here’s a summary of how partnerships working in education, livelihoods, health and social inclusion have already transformed the lives of refugees and their hosts. 

The Government has identified two priority areas to achieve objective 2 of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), to enhance refugee self-reliance: 


  1. Fostering favourable measures for refugees to access work and engage in income-generating activities of their choice.

The refugee hosting settlements are majorly agronomic. Pillar one and two of the 7th National Development Plan (7NDP) outlines strategic programmes by the Government to enhance agricultural production, productivity and making social assistance schemes available. 80% of the agricultural inputs of the Zambia Farmer input support programme (FISP), which is implemented across the country, is government subsidised. Some refugees and former refugees in the protracted settlements have been included in the list of beneficiaries of this programme, with discussions on going to increase this number.  

As part of facilitating financial inclusion, Standard Chartered Bank, Airtel and UNHCR are partnering to digitise cash payment support, through mobile phones, to vulnerable and refugees who are new to Meheba and Mayukwayukwa Refugee Settlements. UNHCR is engaging other financial institutions to extend financial services to the settlements.  

In a joint endeavour with partners, UNHCR is facilitating a market-oriented value chain-based intervention. Forest Fruit Company LTD, a leading honey exporter in Zambia, has begun to include refugees and members of the local communities in Meheba Refugee Settlement in their honey production value chain, involving over 6,000 bee-keeping farmers.  


  1. Granting access to education for refugee children through the provision of education infrastructure in the refugee settlements. 

Schools in all the three refugee settlements in Zambia are under the Government and serve both refugees and children from the host communities. This measure, which applies to childhood, primary and secondary education, ensures there is no parallel system for refugees through an integrated approach. 

The Government has permanently deployed 213 teachers on Government payroll in all three refugee settlements (104 in Meheba, 97 in Mayukwayukwa and 12 in Mantapala), spending approximately US$ 1 million on teacher salaries per year for those teachers in the refugee settlements. 

While schools in Mantapala Refugee Settlement are in large part run with humanitarian funds, they are progressively phasing into public schools that are fully managed by the Government, such as those in Meheba and Mayukwayukwa settlements.  

Despite the current priority set on self-reliance and education, refugees are included in all service sectors such as health, water and sanitation, protection and security, agriculture and livelihoods, community development and social services. 

Pledges and contributions made by Zambia

Pledges and contributions dashboard  (interactive by Area of Focus)

This dashboard includes all pledges and contributions made towards the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees in Zambia, including national pledges made by the Government of Zambia itself.