Aid agencies report that about forty-five million people living in southern Africa are facing severe food shortages, owing to a combination of droughts, flooding, and economic mismanagement. Rainfall has been below average in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and Malawi has yet to recover from a fall armyworm infestation that hit in 2017 and continues to cause severe crop losses.
Zimbabwe has been especially hard hit by food insecurity. The country has been battered by the consequences of poor economic policy dating back more than three decades, made no less burdensome by the resignation of long-time former president Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe is also still dealing with the flood damage caused by Cyclone Idai in March 2019, which also severely affected Mozambique and Malawi.
The United Nations World Food Programme has warned that the food crisis in the region is on a scale not seen previously and is expected to get worse. At least eight million Zimbabweans, more than half the country’s population, are in need of urgent food assistance this year.