Zambia – Mayukwayukwa Refugee Camp

Mayukwayuka refugee settlement was established in Zambia in 1966 to host refugees fleeing from Angola’s civil war. For the first time, banking services are now available in the camp thanks to the entrepreneurship of a former Angolan refugee.

Mayukwayukwa Settlement was officially opened by the Government of Zambia in 1966 to initially host Angolan refugees fleeing the civil war. Now the settlement hosts other nationalities like Congolese, Rwandans, Burundians, Ugandans and others.

The Mayukwayukwa refugee settlement is located in the Kaoma District of Zambia’s Western Province (approx. 105 km to the north-west of the district). It was established in 1966 and is one of the oldest refugee settlements in Africa. Administration of the settlement is managed by the Government of Zambia, UNHCR and other partner organisations (UNHCR, 2015). It is a predominantly rural settlement. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for over 90% of the district’s population (Republic of Zambia, 2014). Mayukwayukwa is quite remote and is surrounded by poor roads. You may want to consider what materials are available locally for your design to ensure they are appropriate and accessible to the community.

The information below relates to living conditions in Mayukwayukwa. Your design should aim to improve the livelihood of people living in Mayukwayukwa. To ensure your designs are appropriate, you will need to substitute this with our own research. Some good resources are available in the Additional Information section. In developing your design solutions, you should consider how the conditions and challenges below will influence your design.


The population of Mayukwayukwa is made up of over 11,000 refugees. Over 6,000 of these are from Angola and the rest are from Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda (UNHCR, 2015). More information can be found in the UNHCR Zambia Operation Factsheet.


There are five schools in the settlement, including one secondary school, which has recently opened. Primary schooling has an education enrolment rate of 57%. Attraction and retention of qualified teachers for provision of quality education is low at 54% (44 trained teachers out of 82) (UNHCR, 2015).

Climate (Kaoma)

Temperatures of the Kaoma District range between the extremes of 5 °C and 33 °C with a hot, rainy season from October to March. The last seven years have seen variation in rainfall patterns and a reduction in rainfall (Republic of Zambia, 2014). Climate change is affecting the performance of the agriculture sector due to adverse weather outcomes . Mayukwayukwa is located in a drier part of Kaoma where mid-season dry spells are common. The soils are also particularly poor (Republic of Zambia, 2014).

Major challenges and opportunities

The Republic of Zambia and UNHCR outline the key challenges and opportunities for former refugees in Mayukwayukwa face as follows :


  • High dependency on subsistence farming – Crop yields (main crops are sorghum, millet, cassava and maize) tend to be below averages in this region due to poor soils and low usage of inorganic fertilisers. A few households survive on general trading or running businesses such as carpentry, tailoring and metal fabrication but overall the businesses are small and rarely meet daily needs
  • Limited opportunities for self and/or formal employment
  • Harsh climatic conditions in Mayukwayukwa area
  • Weak productivity capacity (lack of resources and tools)
  • Poor access to finance – Most former refugees are unbanked and loans are largely only available to Zambian nationals
  • Poor skills and weak business acumen
  • Poor links with markets
  • Weak business-enabling environment including poor roads, lack of electricity and poor mobile phone coverage
  • Weak voice and organisational capacity.


  • Availability of large plots of farming land in the resettlement schemes
  • Existence of basic literacy skills among young people
  • Existence of government funding sources and pro-poor financial products
  • Existence of markets, locally, nationally and regionally
  • Availability of membership networks and forums at the local level – these provide access to market information, training and capacity building as well as access to financing.