Zambia has largely been spared the violence and political upheaval that many of its regional neighbours have experienced in years gone by. With low crime rates, a stable political system and little threat from terrorism or ethnic strife, most expats report feeling quite safe in Zambia. However, as in every country, there are certain things expats can do to minimise risk.
Road safety in Zambia
Road safety is likely the most significant safety concern for expats living in Zambia. The majority of expats own or rent a vehicle for getting around. However, driving in Zambia can be an exercise in patience. Local drivers often disobey the rules of the road and drive recklessly, and many vehicles are in a poor state of repair. Added to this, many roads are unpaved and may become impassable without a four-wheel-drive vehicle, especially during the rainy season.
Some companies may provide a driver for their senior executives, so this is something worth noting during contract negotiations when considering employment opportunities in Zambia.
Crime in Zambia
Most expats living in Zambia report feeling safe in their homes. Nevertheless, home burglaries do occur. Expats should ensure that they have adequate home security, such as burglar bars on their windows. Hiring a security guard or contributing to a neighbourhood security fund can also add significantly to peace of mind.
Crimes of opportunity such as pickpocketing and smash-and-grab thefts do occasionally occur. Car doors and windows should be locked when driving on congested roads. Walking around at night is not advisable, nor is driving at night.
Political unrest in Zambia
Zambia enjoys a stable political system and civil unrest is not common. Nevertheless, protests do occasionally take place. Although the majority of protests are peaceful, some have resulted in violent clashes between protesters and the police. Expats should avoid protests and political gatherings, particularly around election times.
Food and water safety
Although tap water in Lusaka may be potable, the quality of the water is not always consistent and is best avoided as a precaution. Outside of major cities, water is less likely to be safe to drink. In these areas it's best to boil water before using it.