Tap Water Safety in Zambia

Can you drink the tap water in Zambia?

In general, no.

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.

The most commonly searched cities in Zambia are:

For a full list of cities in Zambia, scroll to the bottom of this post or click here.

World Health Organization Zambia Water Summary

The World Health Organization estimates that 60 percent of Zambia have access to drinkable tap water.

In Zambia, like in most countries, clean tap water availability is much higher in urban areas than in rural areas, with urban area availability averages at 46%.

World Health Organization's 2017 Zambia Water Data

The World Health Organization data on water quality and availability throughout Zambia includes the national average, averages for urban population centers, and averages for rural areas.

DataDescription
Safely ManagedA location that safe, drinkable water that is free of biological or chemical contaminants available on premise.
At Least BasicSafe drinkable water is available within 30 minutes from the location
LimitedIt would take more than 30 minutes from the location to access safe, drinkable water.
YearPopulation in 1000sSafely managedAt Least BasicLimited
National
200010531-49%4%
201717094-60%8%
Rural
20006845-31%4%
20179744-42%9%
Urban
2000368649%84%3%
2017735046%84%6%

What Do People In Zambia Think About The Tap Water?

Travelers 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.

DescriptionScoreRating
Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility69%High
Water Pollution94%High
Drinking Water Quality and Accessibility31%Moderate
Water Quality6%Low

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View our tap water report on all cities in Zambia

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