SOLYMONE BLOG

IN ZIMBABWE, SURVIVAL LIES IN SCAVENGING

INTERNATIONAL (AFRICAN) NEWS

Zimbabwean children picked up corn that had spilled from a truck on a recent Sunday along a road south of the capital, Harare.
NZVERE, Zimbabwe — Along a road in Matabeleland, barefoot children stuff their pockets with corn kernels that have blown off a truck as if the brownish bits, good only for animal feed in normal times, were gold coins.
In the dirt lanes of Chitungwiza, the Mugarwes, a family of firewood hawkers, bake a loaf of bread, their only meal, with 11 slices for the six of them. All devour two slices except the youngest, age 2. He gets just one.
The half-starved haunt the once bountiful landscape of Zimbabwe, where a recenent United Nations survey found that 7 in 10 people had eaten either nothing or only a single meal the day before.
Still dominated after nearly three decades by their authoritarian president, Robert Mugabe, Zimbabweans are now enduring their seventh straight year of hunger. This largely man-made crisis, occasionally worsened by drought and erratic rains, has been brought on by catastrophic agricultural policies, sweeping economic collapse and a ruling party that has used farmland and food as weapons in its ruthless — and so far successful — quest to hang on to power.
But this year is different. This year, the hunger is much worse.
The survey conducted by the United Nations World Food Program in October found a shocking deterioration in the past year alone. The survey, recently provided to international donors, found that the proportion of people who had eaten nothing the previous day had risen to 12 percent from zero, while those who had consumed only one meal had soared to 60 percent from only 13 percent last year.
For almost three months, from June to August, Mr. Mugabe banned international charitable organizations from operating, depriving more than a million people of food and basic aid after the country had already suffered one of its worst harvests.
Mr. Mugabe defended the suspension by arguing that some Western aid groups were backing his political rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, who bested him at the polls in March but withdrew before a June 27 runoff. But civic groups and analysts said Mr. Mugabe’s real motive was to clear rural areas of witnesses to his military-led crackdown on opposition supporters and to starve those supporters.

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