Reducing Poverty in ZimbabweReducing poverty in Zimbabwe involves understanding the effects of a poor economy and extreme weather events. Based on data from 2019, the UNDP reported in 2023 that an estimated 25.8% of people in Zimbabwe suffer from multidimensional poverty (multi-faceted poverty that goes beyond monetary means). In addition, 26.3% are at risk of falling into multidimensional poverty. Amid severe weather patterns, the nation requires sustainable solutions to help vulnerable and impoverished farming communities establish resilience and protect their livelihoods. Fortunately, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is working with communities in Zimbabwe to help them rise out of poverty by centering its efforts around several main focus areas. In particular, ADRA’s environmental efforts provide a lifeline to communities in Zimbabwe facing severe impacts of extreme weather events.

High Unemployment

Environmental changes in Zimbabwe present themselves through droughts, heatwaves and floods and disrupt ecosystems and the food supply chain. This aggravates rural farmers’ income streams and Zimbabwe’s overall economic development. Cities and towns across the country experience heavy monetization due to hyperinflation. This makes basic urban commodities like electricity, food and water too expensive for impoverished people to afford.

Food Insecurity

Environmental changes have also increased food poverty in Zimbabwe. With agriculture serving as the primary source of income for the nation, “low agricultural output” and a growing number of “urban food shortages” have detrimental impacts on urban and rural dwellers.

A more comprehensive picture provided by the World Food Programme illustrates that about 3.8 million people in rural areas and 1.5 million people in the urban population face food insecurity in the nation. This is due to climate challenges and an unstable economy. These environmental changes reduce the primary materials needed to process food in the markets. With the unstable economy, food prices fluctuate, making food security out of reach for impoverished Zimbabwean households.

ADRA’s Environmental Measures

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), a global humanitarian organization that delivers relief and development assistance for sustainable change, is implementing environmental measures for reducing poverty in Zimbabwe. ADRA’s Zimbabwean office spoke to The Borgen Project, saying, “We have experienced climate-induced droughts, El Niño, climate-induced floods, mudslides and cyclones. Farmers are experiencing changing season cycles, animal deaths, etc.”

ADRA celebrated its 40-year anniversary by implementing the #plantafruittree project. This project involves planting 40,000 fruit trees across “schools, farms, homesteads, and institutions” in Zimbabwe from August to December 2023. It aims to reduce extreme weather impacts and raise community health. “As we commemorate ADRA’s 40 years of disaster response, humanitarian relief and development assistance, we are committed to promoting initiatives such as tree plantings that not only can help improve natural air quality, decrease erosion and remove pollution but also generate wellness benefits for residents in all communities,” says ADRA President Michael Kruger on the ADRA website. In August, ADRA planted the first 1,000 trees to commemorate the project.

ADRA’s poverty-alleviating reforestation strategy supports Sustainable Development Goal 13 (Climate Action), purifying the air and establishing resilient ecosystems that can minimize the adverse impacts of extreme weather patterns. It can also provide time for governments to plan out disaster response strategies and improve human health in Zimbabwe.

Looking Ahead

The citizens of Zimbabwe struggle to make ends meet under an impoverished economy, an unstable government and drastic environmental changes. Non-governmental organizations like ADRA wholeheartedly deliver environmental relief to this vulnerable population to practically overcome the issue of reducing poverty in Zimbabwe.

– Amy Contreras
Photo: Unsplash

Young Farmers in Zimbabwe
Prosper Bvunzawabaya, a graduate in finance has planted 300 mango trees that belong to a species called “Tommy Atkins”, which he hopes to be able to export after discovering its market potential overseas. Milton Zhakata is resorting to innovation by mixing Boer goats, originally from neighboring South Africa, with native goats. Boer goats’ meat is a money-printing machine. The goats are prolific breeders. These are just a few examples of the progress of young farmers in Zimbabwe.

Overall, youth contributes to 62% of the country’s population today and young farmers in Zimbabwe are increasingly engaged in contributing to the economy in recent years. More than 55% of women are between the ages 20 and 31 and >45% of men in the same age bracket grow fruits and rear livestock in the country.

Agricultural productivity has received recognition as one of the key factors that can help reduce poverty in Zimbabwe, especially in the post-COVID era.

The country has 10.2 million acres of arable land, although it lacks modern equipment and sustainable irrigation practices in several regions. Partnership with U.S. companies (e.g. John Deere) has steered the country in a positive direction towards adopting sustainable farming practices in these areas.

How Government Support and Innovations Help Young Farmers in Zimbabwe

President Emerson Mnangagwa, gaining office in 2017, was quick to adopt policies that would attract the youth to embrace agricultural best practices.

  1. The government’s pro-farming mindset revels in the program called “Pfumvudza” (meaning “Master Farmers’ Revolution”), which weathers all climatic conditions and involves tillage reduction, organic mulch-based soli cover and crop rotations. Pfumvudza provides financing subsidies to young farmers and is backed by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
  2. The president has launched Provincial Integrated Youths Skills Development Centres (PIYSDC) for the country’s 10 provinces where youths are recruited at each center annually. The government provides training and support to youths to boost productivity. As of September 2022, 3,000 youths underwent training based at PIYSDC, which involved government allocation of 1,235 acres of land to institute these training centers, and distributing 700 heifers (female cows) to the rural district youths towards promoting interests in practicing agriculture.
  3. New land policies and government efforts empower more youths. In May 2023, 21 out of 74 (qualified) youths got farms in the province of Mashonaland through the presidential 10ha scheme. This is part of land allocation efforts that the government has undertaken to integrate youth into mainstream agricultural practices.
  4. Agritech private businesses promote better networking of farmers to help small-business owners in agriculture through their platforms. For example, Zimbabwe’s Econet Wireless communications group opened up its platform to recruit developers that bring innovations to agribusinesses.

Challenges in Agricultural Practices

Rural, agrarian parts of Zimbabwe are faced with specific challenges that cannot be undermined.

  • Lack of Land Deeds: Title deeds play a critical role in getting the financial support farmers need to kickstart their projects, and banks may be willing to support (albeit rarely) for very high interest rates, which are normally not affordable for rural youths. A Tobacco Control research study found in 2020 that more than 50% of Zimbabwean tobacco farmers were in debt. The government is in discussions with local financial institutions to accept the 99-year leases as collateral security.
  • Droughts: Most drought-prone regions of the country experience severe drought once every two years on average. With hardly 1% of the land accessible for irrigation, access to cultivable land is at a premium, even in rainfed areas.
  • Market Preferences: Local supermarkets prefer imported foods sometimes and this exacerbates the trust and livelihood of local farmers.
  • Storage: Lack of proper storage of surplus foods results in wastage and loss of income to these local farmers.
  • Other Risks: Smallholder farmers also face other risks such as flooding, pests and diseases. The lack of well-developed financial markets results in losses without insurance for the localities.

The Path Forward 

The World Bank assessment in October 2022 affirms several opportunities to promote Zimbabwe’s agricultural productivity. Access to irrigation methods, climate-smart farming, diversification of high-value crops and sustained partnerships for reliable machinery are some of the critical factors that are expected to propel both the government and the private sectors forward.

Given the challenges faced, innovations and market orientation of small-scale farming carry a promising future for young farmers in Zimbabwe to invest in this sector for economic growth, both at the personal as well as the national level.

– Sudha Krishnaswami
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor in Zimbabwe
Due to Zimbabwe’s deteriorating economy, droughts, famine and cholera outbreaks, children are susceptible to child labor in Zimbabwe. According to the U.S. Department of Labor 2019 report on child labor, 40.4% of 5- to 14-year-olds in Zimbabwe partake in child labor. These forms of child labor include mining, tobacco production, human trafficking, harvesting of sugarcane and labor in agriculture. 

Despite laws in Zimbabwe to combat child labor, research has shown no evidence that labor law force agencies have enforced such laws. Despite the setbacks that Zimbabwe faces in combating poverty, many organizations have taken the initiative to end child labor in Zimbabwe. 


CACLAZ/ANPPCAN engaged all stakeholders and partners in Epworth, Zimbabwe in a workshop to teach and enhance their knowledge of child labor issues and child rights. It created a team of district child protection committees, teachers and various NGOs to communicate child labor issues in Zimbabwe as well as identify gaps in the child protection system of Zimbabwe. 

The goal for CACLAZ/ANPPCAN is to create a “child labor-free zone,” which is “possible with the use of an area-based approach that needs every individual and organization’s effort to create a norm that every child should be at school and not at work.” The organization was successful in developing 76 child labor-free zones around the world including Zimbabwe and managed to lift 10,000 children out of labor or prevent them from dropping out of school. 

The Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC)

Another organization working to end child labor in Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC). ZNCWC is the body of the child rights sector in Zimbabwe and seeks to work with other organizations that also work in the child rights sector of Zimbabwe. ZNCWC partnered with an organization known as Save the Children Zimbabwe (SCZ) to implement a project titled Child’s Right Governance. The goal of the project was to write the Civil Society Supplementary Report to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The report shared insights into Nepal’s efforts to implement child labor laws and how it lays the groundwork for child rights globally. The Child’s Right Governance project also allowed for the implementation of child advocacy efforts across Zimbabwe. 


According to the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (ZIMSTAT)’s Labour Force and Child Labor Survey, children’s roles as laborers has increased for the first time in 20 years. This is due to school closures during the COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, putting vulnerable children at greater risk for labor. About 50,000 children in Zimbabwe were in labor and these conditions worsened after COVID-19, showing only 40% of children continued engaging in formal education. The ILO works in the country by supporting the government to create strong alliances to eradicate the increase of children in labor. The ILO works to increase global knowledge of the issue, empower vulnerable communities and promote public policies regarding labor among children in Zimbabwe. 

Looking Ahead

While children are still working as laborers in Zimbabwe, it is good to know that various projects are in place and making a difference. Through various organizations’ work, child labor should disappear.

Yana Gupta
Photo: Flickr

Schooling in Zimbabwe
Poverty shapes schooling in Zimbabwe, determining aspects ranging from the quality of education to the duration of study. In essence, students with greater wealth are more likely to attain secondary education and experience transformative outcomes compared to their less affluent peers.

Wealth Inequality Between Urban and Rural Children

Urban Zimbabwean households typically possess more wealth than their rural counterparts. In 2021, according to the World Bank, 55.5% of rural Zimbabweans lived below the national food poverty line in contrast to only 15.5% of urban Zimbabweans. This stark 40% contrast underscores significant wealth inequality, a gap evident in the disparity between urban and rural education.

How Wealth Inequality Affects Schooling in Zimbabwe

Poor communities do not have the infrastructure, staff or resources to maintain quality learning facilities. Families within these communities grapple with daily hardships stemming from living below the poverty line, rendering tasks like funding teacher salaries, constructing safe schools and providing essential amenities such as water and electricity difficult. Put simply, the quality of rural Zimbabwe’s education pales in comparison to its urban counterpart due to the extreme poverty prevalent in rural areas.

Educational Inequalities

Given that rural regions hold the highest poverty rates, rural Zimbabweans disproportionately bear the brunt of educational disadvantages.

For instance, urban children are more likely to successfully complete all educational levels compared to their rural counterparts. In Zimbabwe, urban children achieve a primary school completion rate of 97% whereas rural children achieve a rate of only 86%, falling below the national average, according to UNICEF’s MICS-EAGLE (Education Analysis for Global Learning and Equity) Zimbabwe Fact Sheet of 2021.

Throughout secondary school, rural students consistently lag nearly 10% or more behind the national average in terms of completion rates while urban students consistently surpass the national average.

Completion rates for each individual school level remain consistently low for rural students. Of all students failing to complete a specific educational level, two-thirds are from rural backgrounds, the 2021 MICS-EAGLE Zimbabwe Education Fact Sheet notes.

According to Teach for Zimbabwe, unfortunately, even the rural children who do complete school typically achieve lower academic results compared to children in urban areas. More than two-thirds of Zimbabwean children lack access to quality and comprehensive education, and as a result, there are “tens of thousands of students who cannot even read, write, or speak English after seven years of primary education,” Teach for Zimbabwe says on its website. A lack of trained educators, unideal learning environments and insufficient resources and funding impact the quality of education.

Teach for Zimbabwe’s Role in Schooling in Zimbabwe

Founded in 2018, Teach for Zimbabwe is a branch of the global nonprofit, Teach for All, that focuses on bringing diverse, innovative education to disadvantaged children in Zimbabwe. The organization accomplishes this mission through educators: qualified teachers from diverse backgrounds are trained, compensated and stationed in needy local districts. These educators commit to a two-year term at the school, a period during which both teachers and students become better equipped to navigate Zimbabwe’s education system.

Given that many rural, impoverished regions lack the means to hire and sustain teachers, numerous rural school districts lack educators in general or lack qualified educators. In June 2022, Zimbabwe faced a shortage of more than 25,000 teachers. Having highly qualified teachers in rural schools will elevate the quality of education for rural students, potentially impacting their academic outcomes and education completion rates.

Looking Ahead

The educational inequalities stemming from poverty significantly influence Zimbabwe’s schooling landscape. Two students who both complete primary school may experience vastly different outcomes as a result of the urban-rural divide. Organizations like Teach for Zimbabwe are paving the way for transformative change in rural Zimbabwean schools to allow for quality education that will enable students to reach their highest academic potential.

– Suzanne Ackley
Photo: Flickr

Charities Operating in ZimbabweZimbabwe is a landlocked Southeast African country where poverty is prevalent. With 39.75% of the population living on less than $2.15 a day in 2019, Zimbabwe faces numerous challenges to overcoming poverty, including drought, famine, disease, corruption and civil conflict. A lack of investment in health care and education and a high dependency on low-yield agriculture that is susceptible to drought, pests and disease have exacerbated the situation. Extreme poverty also recently increased from 30% in 2017 to 42% in 2019, affecting over 6.6 million people. Fortunately, numerous charities operating in Zimbabwe are working to address these challenges and alleviate poverty.

5 Charities Operating in Zimbabwe

  1. The Beatrice Project: A U.K.-based charity established in 2015, the Beatrice Project aims “to provide sanitary protection and training to enable young girls to complete their schooling.” The project now provides 300 girls with vital sanitary protection, reducing gender-based inequality and improving access to education. Without projects like this in place, girls are forced to use unhygienic and uncomfortable materials, which can lead to absence from school and impact their future opportunities.
  2. Makomborero: Makomborero aims to improve lives in Zimbabwe through education, enabling people to change their futures by targeting one of the root causes of poverty. The charity takes a variety of approaches to achieve this aim. In addition to providing scholarships and other financial support to break barriers to education, it has built a mobile science laboratory that has been used by over 100 students, works to expand interest in education and increase standards of learning and provides small business training. Through these initiatives, Makomborero is creating opportunities in a country where unemployment was at 7.4% in 2019 while teaching people to generate and manage income using their available resources rather than relying on loans. Over the last 10 years, Makomborero has funded A-Level education for 195 students, supported 50 students through graduation from Zimbabwean universities and helped lift 67 families out of poverty with its entrepreneurial training.
  3. ActionAid: Since 1997, ActionAid has worked to reduce the impacts of poverty, drought and food shortages in Zimbabwe and provided emergency aid to over 44,000 people. After El Niño caused a devastating drought in 2016, Zimbabwe was rife with malnutrition and starvation: some four million people suffered from a lack of food and water. A persistent threat in Zimbabwe, droughts severely reduce crop production and livestock survival and contribute to food insecurity. Insufficient access to food and water leaves many children too weak to attend school, and women and girls must often wait hours to procure limited water resources. One way that ActionAid is helping is by establishing boreholes to provide communities with safe and long-term access to water. This is helping to reduce the spread of diseases like typhoid and cholera while ensuring that fewer children miss out on education due to lack of a basic resource. ActionAid also works to educate farmers on methods for increasing crop yields and provides loans to help families develop small businesses that will reduce their dependency on unreliable agriculture for income.
  4. Save the Children: Save the Children has provided humanitarian relief and sustainable solutions for combating poverty’s effects on children in Zimbabwe since 1983. Consistent with its larger global mission, the charity emphasizes improving Zimbabwean children’s health, safety and access to education to pave the way for a brighter future. In addition to long-term strategies like investing in education and health care, Save the Children provides emergency aid to help save lives and reduce the impact of disasters. For instance, the charity mitigated the 2018 cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe by instituting “a highly effective clean water, sanitation and hygiene program.”’ In 2022, Save the Children lifted 31,000 Zimbabwean children out of poverty, educated 82,000 and provided health care and nourishment for 54,000. Save the Children’s ongoing efforts are helping to ensure that children in Zimbabwe, and around the globe, have a fair chance at life.
  5. Love Zimbabwe: Love Zimbabwe operates in Zimbabwe and Wales, pairing the Wales community of Abergavenny with the Zimbabwe village of Chinamhora to provide targeted relief for those in need while promoting the benefits of fair trade. In addition to raising funds, working to improve education and providing aid for people in Chinamhora, the charity provides skills-based training aimed at equitable economic growth. It helps people in Chinamhora become more self-sufficient by encouraging them to make and sell arts and crafts, promoting their products, helping them start businesses and working to ensure that they receive fair prices. Love Zimbabwe is also working to improve hygiene and ensure reliable access to clean water in Chinamhora, and has established a community center that offers food, support, water and other vital necessities.

Looking Forward

Despite the numerous challenges that the country faces, these five charities operating in Zimbabwe are creating hope for a brighter future. Their work to reduce the impacts of poverty through both immediate aid and long-term initiatives are improving lives for current and future generations in Zimbabwe.

Isla Wright
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction in Zimbabwe
Extreme poverty in Zimbabwe has gotten worse over the last decade due to agricultural industry failures and changing weather patterns. Still, the government’s strategy of Pfumvudza, introduced in 2020, is helping poverty reduction in Zimbabwe. When set against a background of progress in non-income poverty metrics, indicators show Zimbabwe should progress in the battle against extreme poverty over the next decade.

Agricultural Industry Failures

Due to heavy investment in agriculture during the Mugabe administration, up to two-thirds of Zimbabweans worked in agriculture and many Zimbabweans relied directly on the domestic agriculture industry for food security. Incomes from the agriculture industry are the lowest in the country due to low productivity and changing weather patterns causing long droughts, which have increased in frequency and intensity over the last 20 years. For example, “maize production in 2019 was only 36% of its 2017 level.” These two key factors have resulted in plummeting agricultural output and, therefore, losses in income for two-thirds of Zimbabwe’s workers.

The failing agricultural industry has pushed more Zimbabweans into extreme poverty. The U.N. defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 per day, a rate that has increased in Zimbabwe from 21.4% in 2011 to 39.5% in 2021. This is deeply concerning as the extreme poverty rate for the whole of sub-Saharan Africa stood at 45.8% in 2011 and 39.7% in 2021, according to the World Bank.

Battling Extreme Poverty

The Zimbabwean government has attempted to battle the rise in extreme poverty linked to the agricultural sector by boosting agricultural productivity and reducing climate challenges in farming. To do this, it introduced a program called Pfumvudza, a name derived from the Zimbabwean phrase meaning “the blooming of new leaves during the farming season.”

Pfumvudza is a form of conservation agriculture focused on crop rotation, mulching and minimum tillage, which increased crop yields in areas where it was tried. Before the implementation of Pfumvudza in specific areas, about 92% of households relied on food aid from NGOs and the U.N. In the same areas, after the implementation, this rate fell to 43%.

By improving agricultural output, Pfumvudza helps poverty reduction in Zimbabwe, improving work conditions and pay for workers in the agricultural industry and food security for the whole country. The government has expanded the Pfumvudza scheme to 4.6 million plots in the 2022/23 season. This indicates that Zimbabwe’s extreme poverty rate could fall as the agricultural sector develops under the Pfumvudza strategy.

Progress in Non-Income Dimensions of Poverty

Unlike monetary measurements of poverty, Zimbabwe has performed well on the non-income dimensions of poverty. Infant mortality, maternal mortality and life expectancy rates have all improved significantly over the last decade and at a higher rate than the average for sub-Saharan African countries. Infant mortality decreased from 57 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 36 in 2021. Zimbabwe saw 579 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2000, which reduced to 458 in 2017. Furthermore, life expectancy rose from 45 in 2000 to 61 in 2020.

Education provision quality and quantity have boomed over the 2010s, with spending on primary and secondary education quadrupling between 2009 and 2014. More than 90% of adults are literate and more than 90% of boys and girls finish primary school, according to a World Bank report. Education provision is key to poverty reduction in Zimbabwe because it allows individuals to improve their economic circumstances, so this increase in education provision could lead to poverty reduction in Zimbabwe in the long run.

With continued efforts to reduce conditions of poverty, Zimbabwe will see further progress and improvements on quality of life indicators.

– John Cordner
Photo: Flickr

Zimbabwean Farmers
Zimbabwe has faced several economic issues during the past two decades. The country’s economy has gone through a series of reforms and crises. All this has had a major impact on the poverty situation in the country. Between 2019 and 2020, Zimbabwe’s macroeconomic challenges, a record drought, cyclone Idai and the COVID-19 pandemic affected the country. Today, the economic regressions that the country has faced are having negative impacts on the daily lives of Zimbabwean farmers.

Agricultural Zimbabwe

Agriculture is the pillar of Zimbabwean society. It provides income for around 70% of the population, supplies almost 60% of the raw materials that the industrial sector necessary and contributes 40% of total export earnings. While the agricultural sector of Zimbabwe remains the largest employer of labor in the country, the official wage of farm laborers is around 78,000 Zimbabwean dollars. With the inflation rate at around 180%, many farmers are struggling to stay afloat financially and have resorted to working at multiple jobs simultaneously. Other challenges that farm laborers and smallholder farmers faced are droughts, poor soil fertility, low investment, shortages of farm power, poor physical and institutional infrastructure and recurring food insecurity.

Struggles of Farmers

In addition to the financial crisis, farmers in Zimbabwe also suffer from bad treatment in their workplaces. Many farmers and farm laborers have to live in colonial-era shacks known as “makomboni.” According to Al-Jazeera, many have to contend with living in “renovated pigsties, tobacco barns, and horse stables on farms where they work.” Laborers are often unable to provide basic means for their families and get into debt with money lenders and their employers. The issues that the farmers of Zimbabwe faced are a testament to the economic predicament that the country is facing today.

Loss Of Profit

For cash crops such as cotton, which usually brings much financial success to farmers, rising inflation rates and poor currency means that they no longer get the desired profits of cotton farming. Besides inflation, two of the biggest issues that cotton farmers face are corruption and falling prices. Back in 2017, the price of a single kilogram of cotton was around $1.51. As cotton now is sold solely in Zimbabwean dollars, farmers gain little to no profit for their arduous labor. Nowadays the price of a single kilogram of cotton hovers between $0.53 and $0.68, almost a 66% decrease in less than six years. Corruption is also a huge issue. In 2022, the chair of the Zimbabwe parliament’s portfolio committee on land and agriculture was arrested for a case relating to the stockpiling of cotton farming inputs.

Another crop that is faltering is maize. As a result of changing weather patterns, droughts are becoming more frequent and harsher in Zimbabwe. Thereby, threatening the production of the maize crop which is a staple in the country. A government assessment estimated that Zimbabwe’s maize production fell by almost 43% in the 2021-2022 season due to the lack of rainfall. Many farmers have received orders to sell their stocks to the state in order to replenish low stocks. However, many are holding onto their stocks because the prices on offer are so miserly.

Hope For the Industry

Zimbabwean farmers are struggling to make ends meet. The economic crisis that the state faced is severely affecting the livelihood of farmers and farm laborers. Changing weather patterns are also having a severe impact on the production of import crops such as maize and cotton. However, hope still exists for the industry. Young farmers in Zimbabwe are leading the drive for the new generation. They are diversifying by growing fruits such as mangoes, rearing livestock such as Boer goats and cultivating tobacco. They are practicing sustainable methods that provide hope for farmers in Zimbabwe.

– Saad Haque
Photo: Flickr

Zimbabwe Since Mugabe
Zimbabwe, officially the Republic of Zimbabwe and formerly recognized as Rhodesia. Zimbabwe is a landlocked nation in southern Africa bordering South Africa to its south and Zambia to its north. The nation gained independence in 1980 after a long period of colonial rule. Similarly to South Africa, Zimbabwe suffered a period of white-dominated rule in which the country suffered severe human rights violations, especially to the majority black population.

One of the longest-sitting leaders in modern times, some considered Robert Mugabe to be a revolutionary hero. Having led the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU – PF) and ousted the minority white government of Zimbabwe, Mugabe became the leader of the nation. Serving as President from 1987 to 2017. At first, many in Zimbabwe may have felt optimistic about Zimbabwe’s future, but after 30 years of economic stagnation and rampant hyperinflation, a military coup ultimately ousted President Mugabe. His dismal leadership of Zimbabwe’s economy and reports of many human rights violations are the main reasons for his departure. Here is some information about Zimbabwe since Mugabe.

The Economy

Unfortunately for President Mnangagwa, his predecessor left Zimbabwe in economic peril. With Mugabe gone, there was much elation at the prospect of a new leader in Zimbabwe, with many finally believing that the worst may be behind them. Mnangagwa promised the people of Zimbabwe economic prosperity and more democracy. The President stated at ZANU – PF headquarters that “No one is more important than the other. We are all Zimbabweans. We want to grow our economy. We want jobs.”

However, economic prosperity has yet to come, with some in the nation believing that Zimbabwe since Mugabe has actually worsened. Zimbabwe’s inflation problem seems to have continued under the new leadership, having a 557.2% inflation rate in 2020. However, 2021 saw a 458.66% decline in inflation to 98.55%.

The problem with hyperinflation is that the Zimbabwean dollar is effectively worthless, making it very hard for the economy to grow as foreign imports will simply be far too expensive. Many in Zimbabwe prefer using the U.S. dollar, whereas the South African Rand is the most common. However, the GDP per Capita in Zimbabwe was $1,774 in 2021, a 29.23% increase from 2020.

Poverty in Zimbabwe requires attention. The poverty rate in Zimbabwe was 85% in 2019, a 0.9% increase from 2017, the year Mugabe left the presidency.

Indicating that in the nearly six years since Mugabe, the government has been unable to make any significant change to poverty in the nation. Alongside a disturbingly high poverty rate, the country has an estimated 90% of the citizens either unemployed or work informally to make a living.

Human Rights

Perhaps unsurprisingly, with Mnangagwa being a member and leader of the ZANU – PF party, the same party as former President Mugabe and the only party in power since the ending of the white minority rule in Zimbabwe, human rights in Zimbabwe continue to be an issue in the nation.

Mnangagwa promised change in Zimbabwe, however, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) the situation continued to decline in 2020 under President Mnangagwa. According to HRW, more than 70 critics of the government were abducted and tortured in 2020. The HRW stated that “Security forces also continued to commit arbitrary arrests, violent assaults, abductions, torture and other abuses’ against anyone critical of the government.”

With Human Rights violations such as these, it is fair to suggest that not much has changed in Zimbabwe since Mugabe. As ex-President Mugabe received criticism for corruption and silencing of critics. 

Government Reaction to Human Rights

Under the leadership of Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe only repealed one law from the Mugabe era. Critics have suggested the government’s slow implementation of its commitment to political reform shows its lack of interest to re-engage with the international community. Instead, the party with a stranglehold of the politics in the nation would rather pursue the continuation of power in Zimbabwe. Al Jazeera spoke to a Zimbabwean citizen who said that “Under Mugabe, things were getting bad. It’s the same group of people (in power) essentially.”

The government however refutes this, suggesting that Mnangagwa has managed to stabilize the currency and committed to opening up the country for business. While the future certainly looks dim for Zimbabwe since Mugabe, there are some glimmers of hope. Zimbabwe actually has the second-largest platinum deposit in the world. The nation also has a significant amount of gold with more than 4,000 recorded gold deposits found so far in Zimbabwe. While the country’s mining sector in the Great Dyke has been inefficient up until now, the government aims to grow its platinum exports considerably.

Looking Ahead 

The potential of Zimbabwe’s mining sector could be huge, generating more revenue, creating new foreign investment opportunities and long-lasting well-paid jobs for Zimbabwean citizens. If done correctly, the government in Zimbabwe may be able to significantly reduce severe levels of unemployment and rampant poverty.

 – Josef Whitehead
Photo: Flickr

Food Production in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in south-eastern Africa, frequently suffers from the effects of seasonal droughts. For example, during the 2019 agricultural season, Zimbabwe endured a particularly devastating drought resulting in more than 5 million rural Zimbabweans experiencing food insecurity and nearly 4 million requiring food assistance. On top of issues of food insecurity that lower yields caused, Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate rose to rates above 190% in June 2021, resulting in a higher overall cost of living throughout the country. Additionally, the price of maize has risen by more than 50% since the beginning of 2021. Luckily, drought-resistant grains are boosting food production in Zimbabwe.

How the Zimbabwean Government is Assisting Farmers

To solve the problem of lower yield due to maize not being able to withstand drought conditions, the Zimbabwean government has begun assisting farmers in the transition to farming smaller drought-resistant grains like sorghum and millet. This transition has resulted in food production increases in Zimbabwe, though it has not been easy for many farmers, as these smaller grains require more work to keep up. The small-grain crops attract birds, making a protection system essential to guard their crops. Moreover, when harvested, small-grain crops require more labor-intensive processing. Additionally, because the farmers have stopped farming as much maize, they have subsequently become unable to produce the corn necessary to make many staple Zimbabwean foods.

Responsive Drip Irrigation

Responsive Drip Irrigation is aiding farmers with an innovative irrigation system that helps crop production in drought conditions. It developed an irrigation system that reacts to the crops’ chemicals to determine when the plants need water. Of course, innovative technology such as Responsive Drip Irrigation is expensive and therefore difficult to make available to many Zimbabwean farmers. Nevertheless, in August 2021, Responsive Drip Irrigation began working with smallholder farms to help encourage food production increases in Zimbabwe.

The CAWEP Program

Additionally, in December 2022, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced the implementation of a new three-year initiative to make water more accessible throughout rural Zimbabwe. The CAWEP program allocated $14.8 million to increase access to water for various household uses, improve access to clean and affordable energy, and refurbish current irrigation systems. CAWEP should eventually connect as many as 12,500 people to electricity, assist 150,000 people with accessing water and establish more than 100 hectares of land as workable agricultural property. By making water more accessible to these rural Zimbabwean farmers, the UNDP hopes to increase food production in Zimbabwe.

The World Food Programme (WFP)

Finally, the World Food Programme (WFP) has also worked to provide support for rural Zimbabwean farmers in the face of probable climate shocks such as prevalent droughts. as of November 2022, the WFP has provided nearly 10,000 metric tons of food, more than $420,000 worth of cash-based transfers and has reached close to 500,000 people with these cash transfers. As of December 2022, the WFP provided more than 550,000 people with emergency food assistance.

The Road Ahead

Though frequently facing the brunt of powerful droughts and an ever-growing inflation rate, food production is slowly increasing in Zimbabwe as farmers shift to more sustainable crops and receive help from humanitarian organizations such as the WFP and the UNDP.

– Chris Dickinson
Photo: Flickr

Women in the Chivi District
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southeast Africa. It is a member of the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community and the African Union. Many know it for its gold and agriculture-based economy as well as its status of being a tourist destination. The Chivi district, specifically, is a district located in the Masvingo province of Zimbabwe. This district is known for being quite arid and prone to drought. Natural disasters and changing weather patterns have exacerbated the arid climate and drought in the region.

While changing weather patterns and environmental disasters have been negatively affecting the area, women have been working to combat the more unfavorable effects, such as poverty. A 2012 study on the Chivi District shows that around 33.8% of people in the district suffer from chronic malnutrition. Malnutrition is one of the effects of extreme poverty that women in the district are aiming to combat. This article will focus on the role of women in the Chivi district in battling the effects of poverty and the challenges they face in their mission.

The Role of Women in Rural Economies

Overall, women play an important role in developing countries. A study by Hilda Jaka and Elvin Shava has explained that in more rural countries, such as Zimbabwe, women contribute greatly to the reduction of poverty. They help reduce poverty by making important improvements to rural economies. These improvements often come in the form of livelihoods as farm laborers or wage laborers. They also manage and operate complex households and families. Depending on the region, rural women often work in different sectors of agriculture. In the case of the Chivi district, women uphold the economy through their work in irrigation and pottery.

The Role of Women in Chivi

With a population of 90,170 women and 75,879 men in the district, women make up a larger portion of the population in Chivi. Women in this region often spend the majority of their time working on unpaid chores that are necessary for survival. During cropping season in Chivi, women often tend to contribute by working in irrigation. During the agricultural off-season times, many of the women in Chivi are focused on tasks such as pottery, crocheting, sewing and beer-brewing as means to earn extra income for their families. The work of women in this region contributes greatly to the overall economy as they play key roles in society by providing for their families and communities.

Challenges That Women in Chivi are Facing

Although women play an elemental role in the region’s economy, there are still a number of challenges that they face. One of the main challenges women face in this region is the lack of access to competitive markets. The local Chivi government does not provide ready markets, so women often have to travel to other areas in order to sell their goods (pottery, cloth, etc.). There is no direct transport to these areas so women oftentimes have to walk many miles each day. Changing climate patterns is another problem that women in the area are facing. Environmental disasters, in general, have made it harder for agriculture, which is one of the main means of livelihood for women in the region. These cause high temperatures that negatively impact crop production. Women in Chivi are also not very educated about this matter and have no tools to mitigate it.


Women play a large part in the Chivi district and its economy. Whether working as a laborer in agriculture or making pottery and other sellable goods, women are doing something to help their local economy year-round. While they do face challenges such as a lack of education about changing climate patterns and limited access to competitive markets, they still manage to contribute greatly to society. Their contributions to society not only aid their community and family but also helps in reducing global poverty.

– Timothy Ginter
Photo: Flickr