AD114: Facing drought, can Zimbabwe improve on history of food shortage, poor management?

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Graph: Food security in Zimbabwe
Richman Kokera and Stephen Ndoma

Zimbabwe and other Southern African countries are facing one of their worst food shortages in decades (Oxfam, 2015; Plan International, 2016). In February 2016, President Robert Mugabe declared a state of disaster in rural parts of the country severely hit by a drought largely blamed on the impact of El Niño (Guardian, 2016; Herald, 2016; Reuters, 2016).

A rapid assessment led by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee in January 2016 estimated that 2.8 million Zimbabweans are facing food insecurity (Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee, 2016), although other estimates have ranged as high as 5 million (see Al Jazeera, 2016).

While weather plays a decisive role in food production, citizens also look to government action to promote food security. Afrobarometer surveys from 2004 to 2014 provide evidence that hunger is not a new phenomenon in Zimbabwe and that the government has generally fallen short of citizens’ expectations when it comes to ensuring that people have enough to eat.