The return of food: poverty and urban food security in Zimbabwe after the Crisis

For two decades Zimbabwe has suffered a profound political, economic and social malaise. Although the country was a net exporter of food in the 1980s and early 1990s, after 2000 it became a net food importer and a major recipient of food aid. These years were also characterized by a negative GDP growth rate, rising unemployment, increasing poverty, hyperinflation, mass out-migration and recurrent national food shortages. Most households in the country struggled to meet their food needs. While both rural and urban households were subjected to this turbulent environment, the challenges for households in the city, particularly the poor, were acute given the massive job losses resulting from economic decline, increases in the cost of housing, water, electricity and transportation, and hyperinflation. The causes of the crisis have been widely debated but there is consensus that it reached its nadir in 2008. GDP had contracted by over 40% between 2000 and 2006; annual inflation increased from two-digit figures in 2000 to 231 million percent in July 2008 and the country’s external debt ballooned to USD6 billion in 2008. Life expectancy, which had peaked at 61 years in 1990, fell to around 3 years in 2008. That year, political violence and the accumulation of failed economic policies contributed to a drop in food production and a halt to imports, which created a humanitarian emergency that affected millions of households in Zimbabwe. The country received USD490 million in humanitarian aid in 2008, while its foreign currency reserves stood at only USD6 million.

Full paper in Urban Food Security Series No.22 via AFSUN

Photo credit: Kent Clark


Publication Type Paper Series
Publisher African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN)
Year 2016
Author(s) Godfrey Tawodzera, Liam Riley and Jonathan Crush
Editor(s) Jonathan Crush
ISSN 978-1-920597-14-6
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