Zambia: Chanyanya

Working in partnership to grow Zambia’s future


The village of Chanyanya is located near the Kafue River south of the Zambian capital, Lusaka. Farmland here is fertile but underutilised. Yields are constrained by unpredictable rainfall and so land productivity is poor. As a consequence, Chanyanya’s smallholders live below the national poverty line and are, at times, reliant upon food aid. Irrigation systems installed by nearby commercial farms have allowed them to diversify, extend the growing season and improve yields. However, smallholders lack the required scale, finance and specialist knowledge to emulate these successes. The Zambian Government are committed to pro-poor agricultural led development and have identified irrigation as central to long term economic growth and poverty reduction.


2006 -

In 2006, a group of 126 smallholders and 4 commercial farmers formed an interim committee to secure the right to extract water from the Kafue River. The group then approached InfraCo Africa seeking the financing and expertise needed to convert these rights into a bankable irrigation project. InfraCo Africa designed a transformative project. Originally, the intention was to develop a single, irrigated and viable farm of 1,575ha. However, investors were nervous of greenfield, primary production in sub-Saharan Africa and smallholders were reluctant to engage in an unproven model. To address these concerns, InfraCo Africa funded Phase I of the Chanyanya project as a ‘proof-of-concept’ pilot. The project established the Chanyanya Infrastructure Company (CIC) and the Chanyanya Smallholders Cooperative Society (CSCS).

In 2008, CSCS entered into a partnership with CIC, leasing their land to establish a commercial farm. CIC installed the bulk water infrastructure required to support four pivots and provide infield irrigation to 148ha of farmland. In turn, CSCS receive regular lease payments, hold shares in the commercial enterprise and have access to individual irrigated market garden plots. These plots provide smallholders with the opportunity to farm year-round and grow a variety of higher value vegetable crops. The project also employs a full time Agronomist to run a demonstration market garden and a Social Development Officer to build governance capacity within CSCS. Once all investment into CIC is repaid, CSCS will have the option to own the commercial enterprise outright: an empowering long-term goal.

Following the demonstrated success of the pilot, InfraCo Africa was instrumental in the government securing grant funding from the Dutch ORIO Facility to fund an expansion of the project and TA to finance the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP). Delivered in partnership with the GoZ Steering Committee, ORIO funding will be used to expand the Chanyanya project to cover up to 124ha of additional land and to provide 15ha of additional market garden plots for smallholders.  The government will have ownership of the expanded bulk water system (upon completion) whose construction began in July 2019. Alongside this, additional ORIO grant funding and private sector investment has been mobilised to roll out the much larger Chiansi project to three neighbouring communities.

Having identified a lack of safe and adequate pre and post-natal facilities in Chanyanya, InfraCo Africa secured grant funding from PIDG’s Technical Assistance (TA) to build a maternity clinic which opened in June 2021. Equipment and staff for the unit have been provided by the Zambian government.


In pursuing this innovative pilot, InfraCo Africa and the Chanyanya community have developed an exciting, replicable model with the potential to change lives in Zambia and beyond. Lessons from this project have been applied by the World Bank to their Zambian and Ghanaian irrigation programmes.

In Chanyanya, wheat, soya bean and barley have been regularly cropped with yields increasing year on year. Market garden plots are fully subscribed, and smallholders have reported an increase in household income, health and improved food security. The project has empowered smallholders, many of whom can now afford to send their children to school, buy bicycles or otherwise invest in their own future. CSCS is looking forward to the forthcoming expansion of Chanyanya’s irrigated land area as part of the wider Chiansi Irrigation initiative supported by the Dutch ORIO Infrastructure Fund.

“Our lives have improved, we enjoy a better diet through growing vegetables and even the clinic has seen fewer cases of malnutrition and poor health…We now have food security, employment and money coming in…we had none of these things before…We are confident of our future…We have hope.” (Maurice Hikapulwe, Treasurer, CSCS)

Funding has been provided by FMO, Lundin, Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund and ORIO


Francis Chilufya

Improving maternity services

Francis Chilufya is Clinical Officer General at Chanyanya Clinic in rural Zambia. With the support of the Chanyanya Irrigation project, the clinic is expanding its maternity facilities.

Venia Mboozi

Inspiring entrepreneurs

Venia is a smallholder farmer in Chanyanya. With access to irrigation, she can grow crops year-round, earning income to invest for the future. Our Chanyanya Irrigation project is supporting female entrepreneurs.


Miriam Mutende

Diversifying family incomes

Miriam is a smallholder farmer in Chanyanya. Irrigation enables her to grow vegetables year-round, providing income security for her family. Our Chanyanya Irrigation project is providing peace of mind.

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