Tap Water Safety in Zambia

Last Update10:20 pm, May 8, 2020

The estimated price of bottled water

N/A in USD (1.5-liter)

Can you drink the tap water in Zambia?

The US Center for Disease Control's travel advisory recommends avoiding tap water and drinking bottled or disinfected water in Zambia (source). Like all countries though, water accessibility, sanitation, and treatment vary widely from location to location, so we encourage looking for specific city information.

What do people in Zambia think about the tap water?

Don’t drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected (such as with iodine tablets). Don’t drink from streams, rivers and lakes. It’s also best to avoid drinking from pumps and wells; some bring pure water to the surface, but the presence of animals can contaminate supplies. Bottled water is widely available, except in very remote areas, where you should carry a filter or purification tablets.

Wikitravel

Traditional Zambian food revolves around one staple, maize, served in one form, nshima (n'SHEE-ma). Nshima is basically a type of thick porridge, rolled into balls with your right hand and dipped into a variety of stews known as relishes (ndiwo, umunani). Those who can afford them eat relishes of beef, chicken or fish, but the many who can't make do with beans, tiny dried fish (kapenta), peanuts, pumpkin leaves (chibwabwa) and other vegetables such as okra (ndelele), cabbage and rape. At breakfast, nshima can be served watered down into a soup, maybe with a little sugar. Local restaurants will serve nshima and relish for less than 5000K ($1).
Tap water in Zambia is generally not drinkable, at least unless boiled. Bottled water is widely available in cities, but not necessarily in rural areas.
Drinking tap water in the cities is potentially risky, unless either (a) you have a strong stomach, or (b) you are at a restaurant or hotel that caters to foreigners. If neither of these conditions apply to you, you should probably stick with the bottled stuff.

How do People In Zambia Rate The Tap Water?

Travellers and residents of Zambia have rated the water quality and pollution as follows, according to subjective survey data. A score of 100% is considered very high, and a score of 0% is very low. Please be cautious that "moderate to very high" water pollution is bad and the higher the rate of water quality the better.

Tap water ratings

  • Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility 69% High
  • Water Pollution 94% Very High
  • Drinking Water Quality and Accessibility 31% Low
  • Water Quality 6% Very Low

Reminder

Always take extra precautions, the water may be safe to drink when it leaves the sewage treatment plant but it may pick up pollutants during its way to your tap. We advise that you ask locals or hotel staff about the water quality. Also, note that different cities have different water mineral contents.

Sources and Resources


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