Zim’s new farmers face starvation


Staff Writer/Irin

ZIMBABWE’S chaotic land reform programme has spawned hunger and a major humanitarian crisis, a recent survey has confirmed.



, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The survey by the Consortium for Southern Africa’s Food Emergency (C-Safe) found that less than one in every 10 families living in newly-resettled areas in Zimbabwe has received food aid.


C-Safe said in areas where the consortium operated, vulnerability was “very high” and over 60% of the 1 625 households surveyed since March were in “at least one vulnerability category”.


The government has been telling the international community that the reform exercise has empowered the ordinary people. The claims though do not match the evidence on the ground.


The survey, conducted in Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe, found that rural households had suffered the brunt of the ongoing food crisis, with 80% of households classified as “asset poor” or “very poor”.


C-Safe noted that while poverty was a significant contributory factor in exacerbating the impact current food shortages were having on rural families, many households were without items which could be sold in exchange for food or to deal with emergencies.


It is estimated that in Zimbabwe the standard value of assets owned per household averages $194 000 (US$139). “Asset values are significantly lower in newly resettled areas, as opposed to communal and old resettled areas,” the survey said.


In some areas parents had been forced to remove their children from school, most of them citing “the high cost of education” as the main reason. School-aged children living in households with a chronically ill family member dropped out of school at a significantly higher rate.


“Ongoing drought conditions meant that almost 40% of all households had cultivated less land than in the previous season. C-Safe noted that access to agricultural inputs varied from district to district, with over 90% of households in Gutu, in the south, reporting insufficient access,” the survey said.


The educational crisis in the country has been exacerbated by government’s failure to build schools in the newly resettled areas. This is despite earlier promises that schools and clinics would be a top priority.