A year after Cyclone Idai destroyed crops, ruined lives and left millions of Zimbabweans without food, a grave hunger crisis continues to affect the southern African nation.

Zimbabwe is today facing its worst drought in four decades, with communities experiencing repeated failed crops and millions of people left hungry as the country’s vital grain reserves have been wiped out.

Nearly one in three children under five are suffering from malnutrition.

The storm hit Mozambique on 14 March 2019, before sweeping through neighbouring Malawi and Zimbabwe. Approximately three million people were affected, at least 900 killed and more than 2.5 million left in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.

In Zimbabwe, many lost their crops and livestock to the storm, with no second planting season on the horizon. With the country – once known as the ‘breadbasket’ of Africa – heavily reliant on rain-fed agriculture, more help is needed as the drought and food shortages continue.

Christian Aid’s Zimbabwe Country Director, Nicholas Shamano said:

“The people of Zimbabwe are struggling to find enough to eat, and while climate change and more extreme, and frequent, weather conditions have contributed to high levels of food insecurity, failing infrastructure continues to hinder the nation’s recovery.

“Investment in agriculture has been lacking for years, and now the country’s grain reserves are exhausted with the country now relying on grain imports to meet the country’s needs.

“Currently, what the country really needs is guaranteed humanitarian access, with the support of both local and national authorities, to provide much-needed support, especially food, to affected communities.”

Christian Aid partners were on the ground immediately after Cyclone Idai hit, supporting affected communities with essential supplies. These included: maize meal, sugar, dried fish, cooking oil, salt and tea leaves; cooking utensils, water storage containers and blankets; as well as soap, toothbrushes, towels, laundry powder and washing buckets. This support was provided alongside awareness-raising activities on topics such as climate change, hygiene, disaster preparedness, accountability, safeguarding and protection issues.

Today, communities in Zimbabwe continue to be supported by Christian Aid’s local partners, who have been repairing and rebuilding homes, running livelihood recovery activities, offering psychosocial support and providing agricultural resources. Christian Aid and its partners MeDRA and Africa Ahead handed over 147 new homes to Idai survivors in Zimbabwe’s Chipinge, Buhera and Bikita districts, in December 2019. All this has helped to ensure families have somewhere safe to live and can start to rebuild their lives.