The International Monetary Fund and World Bank have approved a $3.9 billion debt relief plan for Zambia.

In a joint statement with the World Bank, the IMF said Zambia qualifies for the plan under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative.

The IMF and World Bank launched the initiative in 1996. The program is designed to help developing countries reduce debt and repay loans without compromising their economies. To qualify, countries must build up a record of sound reforms and devise ways to reduce poverty.

The IMF says Zambia has developed strategies to promote growth, diversify exports, improve social services and address gender inequality.

The statement also said Zambia managed to turn around a decline in the rate of gross domestic product, and said the country's economic recovery has been broad-based.