Mongu prison
  • The prison system in Zambia has been in alarming conditions for some time, particularly as far as inmates’ health care, nutrition and education are concerned. In terms of rehabilitation and reintegration in society the emergency is even more evident. CELIM, in co-operation with Caritas, intends to take action to promote the respect of Zambian prisoners’ human rights.

    Project’s objective: to improve the living conditions of detainees in seven prisons, paying particular attention to women and the children held in prison with them.

  • 7 prisons involved in 4 provinces of the country

    5 health clinics to be refurbished

    4 prison vegetable gardens to be created

For over 13 years Mutinta has been one of the inmates of the women’s section of Lusaka’s prison.

Mutinta is forced to trafficking by a series of unfortunate events: she was born and grew up in the troubled Kanyama compound by an underprivileged family. She made a mistake that will mark her for the rest of her life. Today Mutinta has no idea when she will be able to leave Lusaka’s prison.
However, despite many difficulties, Mutinta can consider herself lucky compared with many other women who, like her, have been imprisoned for years and forced to live in discriminatory and often inhuman circumstances: she was in fact able to follow a course and become a nurse, thus becoming a key figure within the prison.

Inmates at work, building the clinic inside Mazabuka prison

In prison there are two possibilities: you either become an outcast of society, or you leave prison in a different way from how you entered it.

In Zambian prisons inmates are still dying due to the lack of water, food and care: there are no basic medical services, infrastructures are insufficient or decadent and medicines are scarce. In particular, the needs of women and children are not adequately addressed.
Pregnant women do not receive adequate treatment or nutrients suited to their condition and the children of female prisoners are forced to share a meal with their mothers.
There are no suitable training and educational programmes: prison guards organize professional courses in almost all prisons, but at the discretion of their personal competence and with no special training on how to teach a class of adults.

Young children, who are serving their mother's sentence, are the most vulnerable.

There are therefore many deficiencies in prisons, but for us this only means one thing: that there is much scope for improvement.

Kitchen, medical dispensary and classroom for courses of some of the prisons benefitting from the project
Kitchen, medical dispensary and classroom for courses of some of the prisons benefitting from the project
Kitchen, medical dispensary and classroom for courses of some of the prisons benefitting from the project

CELIM involves all the competent institutional players within the prisons with the aim to make up for the serious shortcomings identified in three particularly sensitive areas: health services, nutrition and education.
Out of the seven prisons that are the object of our intervention, the one in Mazabuka, in the Southern Province, is in the worst conditions, especially in terms of health: for this reason we are building the clinic here, as well as organizing health education courses.
All our courses, here as well as in other prisons, are aimed at both staff and inmates: the objective is to ensure the constant presence of a person ready to intervene in emergency cases but also in case of simpler ailments.
A wide-ranging action then, aimed at making the Mutinta example not an exceptional case within the prison system in Zambia, but rather a well-established reality.

  • My name is Gianclaudio Bizzotto, I have been living in Zambia for 14 years and I am the project manager
Training courses for inmates and prison staff
Training courses for inmates and prison staff

Project’s overview

The project aims to improve the living conditions of inmates, women and their children in particular, in seven prisons, by taking action in order to develop and support the health, nutrition and education services that are now inadequate.

  • With the District Health Authorities, we intend to: refurbish 5 clinics, provide equipment and medicines, organize first aid courses for staff and inmates and women-specific courses;
  • With the Ministry of Community Development and Mother and Child Health, we intend to: organize nutrition education courses, particularly for pregnant female convicts with children, create vegetable gardens and establish synergies with civil society organizations to guarantee adequate food where necessary;
  • With the District Education Authorities, we intend to: organize literacy and vocational training courses, provide primary- and secondary-level school supplies and guarantee educational services for early childhood.

Direct beneficiaries: 104 between prison officers and guards, 192 women and 12 children under 5.
Indirect beneficiaries: 5,340 inmates.

  • Project title
    Improving health care and education within Zambian prisons for women and children through the promotion of human rights.

    Project manager
    Gianclaudio Bizzotto,

    January 2016 / January 2019

  • Partners
    Caritas Zambia

    Other institutions involved
    District Health Office – DHO, District Education Board Secretary – DEBS, Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health.