A new development project in Zambia

Zambia for Agroforestry, Biodiversity and Climate (Z4ABC)



The overall objective of Z4ABC is to contribute to the development of climate-relevant, productive, and sustainable transformation of agriculture, forestry, and food systems in Zambia to help achieve the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). More specifically, the action aims at (1) improving livelihoods and climate change resilience of specific agricultural, agroforestry, forestry, and food systems in the Lower Zambezi – Luangwa – Nyika (ZLN) corridor; and (2) increasing the climate relevance of Agriculture and Knowledge Innovation Systems (AKIS) in the ZLN corridor.


The Republic of Zambia is a land-locked, low-middle income country in southern Africa, with a population of 18.3 million (2020). Despite fast economic growth, Zambia faces serious socioeconomic and environmental development challenges, with widespread and extreme rural poverty, high unemployment, and land and forest degradation. In rural areas, poverty rates are close to 80%.

Approximately 80% of the population is directly dependent on natural resources for fuel, food, income, raw materials, and medicines, with agriculture providing the main source of livelihoods for 60% of all households. Climate change is therefore recognized as a significant threat to sustainable development, with droughts and floods increasing in frequency, intensity and magnitude over the past decades, adversely impacting food and water security, water quality, energy, and the livelihoods of rural communities. Deforestation, land degradation, biodiversity loss, and restricted access of local communities to natural resources further increasing rural people’s vulnerability to climate change.

The theory of change to achieve the objectives

The high-level expected impact of the Z4ABC action is the transformation of selected agriculture, forestry-, and wildlife- based value chains (VCs) in the Lower Zambezi – Luangwa – Nyika (ZLN) corridor to become more sustainable, climate-resilient, and productive while supporting local livelihoods, food security and biodiversity. The strategy is to use a socially inclusive multi-actor approach to support the sustainable transformation of selected value chains through research and development activities in the ZLN area. Strong engagement of local actors and practical pilots with them will foster livelihoods and support the use of innovations. Stakeholders will be engaged to co-identify, co-develop, and pilot selected innovations that are sustainable, biodiversity- and climate-smart, socially inclusive, safe for consumers, and economically viable. Business and policy innovations will be implemented to maintain ecosystem services, supply-chain sustainability, REDD+ and carbon markets, and to facilitate smallholders’ and community’s access to markets, finance, and improved business models.

Implementing organizations

The Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) will be the main implementing partner of the action. CIFOR will lead the action and contribute technical and methodological expertise to the activities of Z4ABC.

The partners include three Finnish research and higher education institutions, namely the Natural Resource Institute Finland (Luke), Viikki Tropical Resources Institute of the University of Helsinki (VITRI), and Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK). These partners will contribute expertise, facilitation, capacity building support, data collection and data analysis, and support for identifying and implementing relevant pilot actions.

The action is partnering with two Zambian universities, the University of Zambia (UNZA) and Mulungushi University (MU). Both universities will contribute to VC pilots, setting up and operating business incubation centers, capacity building, training, and awareness-raising activities at universities, colleges, schools, AKIS, and identification of policy gaps. In the private sector, the action will include two social enterprises – for example COMACO and BioCarbon Partners Ltd. (BCP). They will help in facilitating field pilots and farmers’ adoption of sustainable agriculture and forestry practices, as well as capacity building and up-scaling of innovations in VCs.

University of Helsinki Team: Dr. Nicholas Hogarth, Dr. Maarit Kallio and Emeritus prof. Markku Kanninen