Hunger still plagues Zimbabwe a year after cyclone

Christian Aid and its local partners MeDRA and Africa Ahead handed over 147 homes to Idai survivors across three districts, in Zimbabwe, in December 2019. Recipients included Monika Dhikani, her husband Fitwell Nhengo and their children Irene, Purpose and Advocate, pictured here outside their new home in Bikita district.(Photo: Khumbulani Mpofu)

Millions of people are still struggling as a result of widespread food shortages a year after a devastating cyclone swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. 

Cyclone Idai struck the three countries on 14 March 2019, killing at least 900 people and leaving over 2.5 million in need of humanitarian assistance. 

Livestock and crops were lost "with no second planting season on the horizon", Christian Aid said. 

Drought and repeated failed crops remain a problem, exacerbating the food shortages, and a year on, nearly one in three children under the age of five are suffering from malnutrition, the aid agency said. 

It warned that Zimbabwe, once called the "bread basket" of Africa, is facing its worst drought in four decades.

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."

Christian Aid has been providing practical assistance to communities affected by Cyclone Idai, distributing food parcels, cooking utensils, blankets, hygiene products and water storage containers. 

Its partners in Zimbabwe have been repairing and rebuilding homes, as well as helping people recover their livelihoods. 

Shamano added: "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."