MORE than 3.5 million people are suffering food shortages as a result of a severe drought in Zimbabwe that has damaged crops and led to rising food prices.
Christian Aid has warned that the situation will get worse throughout the winter months, when it estimates that 5.5 million people, largely in rural areas, will be in need of aid.
The charity’s country manager, Nicholas Shamano, said that food inflation had soared and many families were living off two meals a day — or, in some cases, just one — of mainly cereal with a few vegetables. Water rationing is also in place across the country.
Statistics published on Monday showed that annual inflation had almost doubled to 175 per cent in June: rising food prices is one of the biggest factors.
Mr Shamano said: “In 2018 to 2019, Zimbabwe and other Southern African countries experienced an El-Niño-induced drought. The phenomenon pits the country’s food-security status as dire, considering the production levels, available food stocks, the market prices, and the stability of food supply in Zimbabwe’s vulnerable population.”
The UN World Food Programme has said that it needs $173 million (£139 million) to provide food aid to the most vulnerable over the next few months.
The country is also experiencing rolling power cuts as water levels fall, affecting the country’s largest hydropower plant. Power outages of up to 18 hours a day are affecting industries, and, this week, the country’s biggest mobile-phone operator, Econet Wireless, said that the situation was becoming untenable.
Both Zimbabwe and neighbouring Mozambique are still experiencing the after-effects of Cyclone Idai, which destroyed unharvested crops in vast swaths of the region earlier this year (News, 22 March).
The economy in Zimbabwe has been struggling since President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over from Robert Mugabe in November 2017 after a military coup (News, 1 December).