Currently, many members of Zimbabwe are experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises of all time. Due to its devastating economy and food and water shortage, it has been rampant in many poverty areas in Zimbabwe. Especially with the COVID-19 crisis, this moment is critical for an international response in rehabilitating Zimbabwean communities susceptible to poverty.
The Causes of Zimbabwe’s Economy on the Humanitarian Crisis
A large factor in Zimbabwe’s humanitarian crisis is its problems that stem from its economy. As of now, extreme poverty has exceeded 34%, subject to at least 5.7 million people in poverty. As of this year, Zimbabwe’s inflation rate increases up to 500%. However, even with the inflation wages and salaries have remained relatively the same, escalating more financial deficits. As a result of the massive influx of inflation, food insecurity has surged and power-based utilities have drastically declined. Additionally, agriculture and electricity have been a large shortage in vulnerable communities of Zimbabwe.
Even with loans such as the World Bank, IMO and the African Development Bank, Zimbabwe still accumulates more than $8 billion. Additionally, the average middle class is only paid up to $1.80 per day and barely able to sustain themselves. Although with its devastating economy, Zimbabwe has tried several mechanisms in rehabilitating its structure. For example, in 2009 they tried eliminating the US currency entirely in its country to avoid confusion and inflation. Additionally, they tried investing in bonds and electronic money. Unfortunately, these methods have only exacerbated the problem of inflation in its current economy.
The Effects of Zimbabwe’s Economy on the Humanitarian Crisis
As a result of its astronomically high inflation rates, many members of Zimbabwe, especially children, have been subject to extremely inhumane conditions. For example, more than 76% of children in Zimbabwe are currently living below the poverty rate. At least 90% of infants experience malnutrition and stunted growth. Additionally, the World Food Program estimates that the country would need more than $200 million in reparations in order to bring its country out of poverty. To make matters worse, Zimbabwe has also been experiencing extreme food shortages from the several droughts it has endured this past year. As of now, the country only sustains on below 100,000 tons of grain. Zimbabwe consumes about 80,000 tons of maize per month itself. Due to the rampant droughts and the underperforming economy, the poverty rate may increase by more than 5%.
Government Censorship and Suppression of Protests
Along with its conflicts in the economy, the militia imposed by the government has also been suppressing peaceful protestors. This further invigorates the public about the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. These protestors are advocating for more government solvency over Zimbabwe’s frequent power outages and food shortages. For example, during August 2019 local militia placed several attacks on innocent protesters, killing at least six people. Then in mid-January 2020, nationwide protests struck a violent response from the security force and militia. They killed at least 17 people, raped 17 women and raided over 1,000 protestors.
In addition, journalists and other political officials are often silenced on violent and unstable matters in the country. An important state official, Viola Gonda, was harassed for filming local police officers attacking street vendors. This was due to the lack of reform with certain legislation, such as the Protection of Privacy Act. There were frequent loopholes of defamation that interfered with the protection of local journalists.
Initiatives to Rehabilitate Zimbabwe
Although Zimbabwe is suffering through a tremendous crisis, its large public exposure gained more efforts to replenish impoverished areas. For example, the International Monetary Fund has sent a task force to advise Zimbabwe on how to deal with its hyperinflation and decreasing revenue in the economy. Additionally, in February 2020, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his financial consultant plan on request a $2 billion loan package in order to provide its citizens with sustaining jobs and resources. As an immediate solution, UNICEF has provided $11 million in order to improve water and sanitation services. Zimbabwe also received over $240 million for its food shortages. UN Secretary Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon claims that the United Nations will show stronger support in aiding Zimbabweans, providing a positive outlook over its current problems. This will happened when Zimbabwe shows promise in the reparations of its political power and economic power.
NGOs that are Helping the Humanitarian Crisis in Zimbabwe
Along with international organizations, smaller projects are providing aid to local Zimbabweans who are suffering through these tough times. For example, Action Against Hunger, a nonprofit organization that provides resources to combat malnutrition, has made numerous strides in aiding local communities in Zimbabwe. They also launched an emergency project in 2018 to help Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, recuperate the damages after its devastating droughts. Following similar goals and accomplishments, the International Rescue Committee has been dedicated to aid and supply resources to impoverished areas in Zimbabwe since 2008. Its main objectives are providing a direct supply for food shortages, donating vouchers for farmers to increase harvests and plantations and drilling wells to make clean water more accessible.
Even with its downfalls, there are numerous relief efforts to help the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, especially during a global pandemic. With a large global response, there is a strong likelihood of lessening Zimbabwe’s economic and political adversities and raising people out of poverty.
– Aishwarya Thiygarajan