Zimbabwe: Background of the Forgotten Humanitarian Crisis

With its rich soil and natural resources, Zimbabwe was long considered an economically stable country and as the breadbasket of Africa. The agricultural sector flourished and brought forth successful export goods such as tobacco, tea and flowers. Towards the end of the 1990s, land expropriation sounded in a deep economic and social crisis. Hundreds of thousands of farm workers lost their jobs and with it any livelihood they had. Hyperinflation, which lasted for several years, mismanagement und unemployment plunged the country into deep poverty. The Zimbabwean dollar lost all value, was replaced with foreign currencies and was finally officially done away with in 2015. In November 2016, the government introduced promissory notes in an attempt to gain control over the country’s lack of cash. In addition, Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of HIV worldwide. About every sixth person is infected with the virus. The silent dying continues – official figures count well over 30,000 dead just last year.

This has been further aggravated by the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in 2009 and lasting drought periods. Harvests of basic foodstuffs such as corn have in part gone back by half in the past years, and according to the World Food Programme, over one third of the 13 million population at times suffers from malnutrition. On the search for a new livelihood, three million people have immigrated to South Africa just in the past years, including sorely needed doctors and specialists.