Drought conditions in several areas of
Zimbabwe have resulted in poor harvests and subsequent shortages of maize
meal, the staple of the local diet. The central Midlands plateau area,
for example, has not seen a drop of rain since November.
Although the April maize harvest will marginally alleviate the worst affects of the drought in the short term, all health, nutrition and economic indicators point to an impending disaster in the months ahead. At the moment, shortages of other food staples, such as vegetable oil and sugar, also exist nationwide, and there is little sign the shortages will ease.
The situation is compounded by an uncertain political climate, which makes worst-case planning scenarios much more problematic than those used during the previous food shortage of 1992, when regional food reserves were available and transport links were less dilapidated. Food shortages are further exacerbated by the economic crisis that has been intensifying over the past year. As of a recent analysis, inflation is at 116 percent, the unemployment rate is more than 60 percent and the gross domestic product (GDP) has shrunk by more than 20 percent since 1999.
In addition to our ongoing work in other areas, CARE is continuing a supplementary daily feeding project that serves approximately 130,000 children. This is complemented by a general food distribution that serves another 200,000 people. CARE has plans to expand both programs, as necessary.