Zambia’s New National Development Plan: Embracing SDGs and New Ways of Working


By: Maybin Nsupila and Ceri Davies, UNDP Zambia

Zambia has recently completed development of its next medium-term national development plan – the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP).  Anchored on the Zambia’s long-term development strategy, the Vision 2030, wherein Zambia aspires become a prosperous middle income country by 2030, the 7th NDP will guide Zambia’s development strides between 2017 and 2021.  

Up until now, Zambia has taken a sectoral approach in national development planning, with plans being implemented in siloes. This approach has been characterised by poor coordination in implementation, duplication programming, lost opportunities in implementation synergies and linkages across various ministries and implementing agencies, resulting in poor development results. This is partly evidenced by, among other things, the poverty levels that have remained stubbornly high, standing at 64% in 2006 and marginally falling to 60.5% in 2010 and 54.4% in 2015.    

By moving away from a sectoral approach to an integrated multi-sectoral results-based approach, the plan represents a paradigm shift in the way Zambia has handled development planning in the past. Through this approach, it is hoped that Zambia will leverage inter-sectoral synergies and linkages for improved development outcomes. The plan also acts as a vehicle for the domestication of Sustainable Development Goals and other global development and regional development aspirations including the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, among others. A Rapid Integrated Assessment (RIA) conducted by the United Nations Development Programme on the alignment of the Seventh National Development Plan confirms the plan’s alignment to the SDGs.  

With a Gini coefficient value of 0.69, Zambia has been described as one of the most unequal countries in the world (Living Conditions Monitory Survey 2015). While Poverty rates at national level stand at 54.4%, there are glaring differences in poverty between urban and rural areas, with urban poverty rate standing at 23.4% and the rural poverty rate at 76.6%, more than double the urban rate (Living Conditions Monitory Survey 2015). The embedment of the “leaving noone behind” principle in the 7th NDP is therefore, a step in the right direction in ensuring that inequality is effectively addressed. The focus on this principle is amplified by the theme of the plan which is “Accelerating development efforts towards the Vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind” and the inclusion of two pillars that directly speak to reducing poverty and vulnerability and reducing developmental inequalities.    

With five main development pillars, namely economic diversification and job creation; reducing poverty and vulnerability; reducing developmental inequalities; enhancing human development; and creating a conducive governance environment for a diversified economy, the plan seeks to attain four development outcomes. These include diversification and inclusive sustained growth and job creation, eradication of hunger and poverty, improved human capital and improved governance for the delivery of the SDG agenda.   

The plan recognises the interconnectedness of the pillars and the SDGs as well as the need for all stakeholders to play their roles if the development priorities set are to be realised. Accordingly, multi-stakeholder cluster advisory groups and technical working groups involving the public sector, private sector, non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations as well as faith-based organisations have been set up at national level.  At sub-national level, multi-stakeholder Provincial Development Coordinating Committees, District Development Coordinating Committees, and Ward Development Coordinating Committees are being set up.  

Herein lies an opportunity for the philanthropy sector. Through an integrated approach that is centred on facilitating more participatory and decentralized development planning and budgeting processes, with universally adopted goals as guiding aspirations, philanthropy has a chance to have its voice heard and actions counted. The SDG Philanthropy Platform, with its current thematic focus on the well-being of children, has been embedded into the Enhancing Human Development strategic pillar of the plan, which comprises elements of health, education and skills development, and water, sanitation, and hygiene. The Platform has further opportunity to participate in the other Strategic pillars including the pillars on Reducing Poverty and Vulnerability as well as Reducing Developmental Inequalities, which have strong links and reinforce the work in the Enhancing Human Development Pillar.   

The development of this inter-sectoral, results based plan provides an opportunity for foundations and philanthropic organizations to also place a strong focus on addressing these concerns in their programming and funding. With the intricate alignment of the 7NDP to the SDGs, philanthropy will have a chance to make sure their efforts are linked to national efforts, the long-term vision for the country, and the global thrust to achieve set targets, for the well-being of all.