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IRIN - Southern Africa





 



Africa’s all too preventable cholera crisis

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 13:02:15 +0000

Southern and East African countries are facing a severe cholera outbreak that is exposing the failure in public sanitation and the impact of government neglect. Last year, there were more than 109,442 cholera cases resulting in 1,708 deaths in 12 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region (ESAR), according to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF. Since the beginning of 2018, there have been more than 2,009 cases and a further 22 deaths in seven countries – Angola, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, Tanzania, and Zambia. Zambia has been among the hardest hit, with the waterborne disease killing more than 74 people since October last year. Cases have been centred on the capital, Lusaka. To contain the outbreak, the government banned street food vending and public gatherings, which triggered violent protests by traders. The World Health Organization says that while sporadic cases of cholera are regular occurrences in Zambia during the five-month rainy season, 2017 exceeded the average annual caseload. The government and the WHO blame poor waste management and inadequate personal hygiene for the contamination of water and food in the townships, which has driven the epidemic. The government’s response has been to call in the army to help enforce control measures, clean markets, and unblock drains. It also launched an oral vaccine programme with a target of immunising one million people, and the number of cases is now beginning to fall. Failing record Zambia, as a lower middle-income economy, lies in the middle of a range of countries caught in the surge of cases in the region, from struggling Mozambique to relatively prosperous Kenya. “In the last four weeks of 2017 alone, Zambia reported 217 new cases of cholera including 11 deaths, Tanzania 216 new cases including eight deaths, Mozambique 155 new cases, and Kenya 44 new cases,” UNICEF’s regional WASH (Water, sanitation and hygiene) advisor for Eastern and Southern Africa, Suzanne Coates, told IRIN. But by far the worst-affected countries have been war-debilitated Somalia and South Sudan, with 72 percent and 16 percent respectively of the total cholera caseload. Beyond the ESAR region, the Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing the worst cholera outbreak since 1994, with 55,000 cases and 1,190 deaths reported in 24 out of 26 provinces last year, according to Médecins Sans Frontières. allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="429" id="datawrapper-chart-lvooQ" scrolling="no" src="//datawrapper.dwcdn.net/lvooQ/1/" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important;"> Big dreams in Lagos For decades Lagos was a byword for dysfunction and crime. But in 1999 it began a process of reform that dramatically widened the tax base and triggered a surge of Dubai-style development described as some of the most promising and forward-looking urban planning in Africa. But the Lagos experience is not easily replicable. Firstly, the city has entrenched wealth. Secondly, it was an opposition stronghold with a history of progressive politics. The response of the state’s political leadership to ruling party threats was to solidify its grip by making good on promises to its well-educated and informed voters. Tax revenues were needed to implement those reforms, with a willingness by Lagosians to pay predicated on evidence of service delivery – creating a virtuous circle. According to analyst Nic Cheeseman, there were specific conditions needed for the state leadership to pursue its “mega-city ambitions”.  These included political stability that allowed them to plan for the long term, and the appreciation that the reforms were a “feasible way to protect their interests”. The result, however, is a city of even starker contrasts. Lagos is home to some 10,000 dollar-millionaires, while around two thirds of its citizens live in slums. The beachfront developments for the super-rich have been at the expense of the ultra-poor, their communities bulldozed, their rights ignored. Nairobi’s approach Nairobi city council is trying a different approach in Mukuru. I[...]



Is Zimbabwe’s new president up to the task?

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 12:56:47 +0000

After a tumultuous two weeks of political brinkmanship, Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in today as Zimbabwe’s new president, replacing the ageing Robert Mugabe who has led the country since independence. In his inauguration at a packed national stadium, Mnangagwa delivered a positive speech promising to "rebuild our great country", to crack down on corruption, strengthen the “pillars of democracy”, attract foreign investment, and to hold elections as scheduled in 2018.  “He gave reassurances that he would re-engage international partners," said political analyst Ibbo Mandaza. "That is all because the international community is insisting on that because it's backing him.” But how much change is really on the cards and what are the major challenges ahead? Mnangagwa, 75, will lead a deeply divided party, seemingly bankrupt of fresh ideas, but with the weight of the country’s hopes for better times on his shoulders. Mnangagwa served Mugabe for four decades as his enforcer and heir apparent, but after a spectacular falling out and dismissal as vice-president, he left for South Africa until a palace coup cleared the way this week for his return. He arrived in Harare on Tuesday to rock star status as jubilant crowds cheered Mugabe’s resignation – but it was novel celebrity standing for a man more usually feared as a former spy chief and ruling party hardliner. Mnangagwa himself seemed swept up in the moment. He told supporters at ZANU-PF party headquarters: “I appeal to all genuine, patriotic Zimbabweans to come together; we work together. No one is more important than the other. We are all Zimbabweans.” Despite trying to cultivate a new, kinder image, the lawyer and former guerrilla leader repeated the same old revolutionary slogans at party headquarters, including “Pasi nemandu!” or “Death to the enemy!” “Mnangagwa has a lot to prove,” said Kuda Hove, a Harare-based lawyer. “People are already sceptical, because it’s still ZANU-PF in form and deed.” Mugabe’s exit “certainly represents the end of a painful era, but then it is also possible that Mnangagwa’s entry could usher in a new error”, he added. National unity? ZANU-PF looks set to govern alone. Mnangagwa has now spurned calls for the repeat of a coalition with the Movement for Democratic Change that led to a period of economic stability after deeply flawed elections in 2008. The country’s trade union movement and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a 115-member civil society grouping, had both urged the creation of a broad-based transitional administration until fresh elections. “It is time to open a new page,” said trade union secretary-general Japhet Moyo, and condemned what he fears will be the retention of “career ministers” by Mnangagwa, some of whom were well known “thieves and thugs”. Will next year’s elections be free and fair? “The military has helped steal elections before and there is no reason to suspect that it will not help [to do so] in future elections, whenever they are held,” noted Mandaza. Opposition MDC spokesman Obert Gutu said political reforms are urgently needed to remove the “pillars of repression and oppression” put in place by Mugabe, but added that he was “cautiously optimistic” that this could be achieved. University of Zimbabwe political science researcher Eldred Masunungure told IRIN that any changes, especially to the working of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, would need time to be “internalised and institutionalised”. He said he feared Mnangagwa might “put big and heavy spanners in the reform works”. Elections next year could not come at a worse time for the MDC. Veteran leader Morgan Tsvangirai is gravely ill, and the succession issue within his party is far from settled. Celebrating Mugabe's downfall The economy The biggest challenge for Mnangagwa is the state of the economy. Zimbabwe has been in crisis for close to two decades. Unemployment is sky-high (90 percent is the often-cited figure[...]



Seed banks help Zimbabwe’s farmers tackle climate change

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 16:13:30 +0000

“Seed security is food security” is something of a mantra in developing world agronomy circles. In Zimbabwe, the adage is gradually being put into action by promoting the use of indigenous small grains threatened with extinction by the dominance of maize, both in fields and on dinner tables. This dominance has left indigenous small seeds such as millet, cowpeas and sorghum as bit players in Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, despite their greater resilience to weather shocks such as drought, which are occurring with increasing frequency and severity in Zimbabwe because of the effects of climate change. Such small seeds also tend to require fewer of the expensive inputs required by commercial hybrid maize. John Misi, the administrator of Mudzi District, in Mashonaland East Province, explained that getting farmers to use small grains “has been a challenge as maize is our staple food, and as such people are used to planting maize in this community.” For example, most of the land farmed by Jameson Sithole, a smallholder in a marginal and dry area of Chipinge, in Manicaland Province, is planted with maize. He sows just two of his 17 hectares with indigenous small grains. “Maize is a cash crop such that I am able to sell without challenges, helping me to send my 10 children to school and buy equipment for my farm,” he told IRIN. “With small grains it’s different. But l need to supplement my maize stocks when they run out and feed my family during drought.” One hurdle standing in the way of greater use of indigenous seeds is their relative lack of availability.  Whereas farmers tend to buy maize seeds from commercial suppliers, 95 percent of all other kinds of seed are obtained from their own crops or those of fellow farmers. Community spirit Seed banks can help to solve this problem. Community seed banks tend to work along the same lines as money banks: farmers take out loans of seeds, which in many cases are donated by the local community, and then repay the loan in kind with interest after they harvest their crops. Seed banks typically consist of small dark rooms protected from the heat of the sun and filled with shelves of pots and bottles containing a wide range of indigenous seeds, including, in the case of Zimbabwe, millet, cowpeas and local varieties of maize. According to an April 2017 paper on the evolution and role of seed banks in several countries around the world published by Development in Practice, such facilities help “enhance the resilience of farmers, in particular of communities and households most affected by climate change.” This is because they can “secure improved access to, and availability of, diverse, locally adapted crops and varieties, and enhance related indigenous knowledge and skills in plant management” – including seed selection and distribution. Jameson Patricia Muchenje, a smallholder farmer in the district of Rushinga, in Mashonaland Central Province, is a case in point. “In our community we are working towards keeping and protecting our small grains from disappearing through our community seed bank,” she told IRIN. “We have been working together, teaching each other on planting the right seeds and use the best farming techniques.” She added that she and other farmers in her neighbourhood were soon hoping to sell seeds from the seed bank “to enable us to get some income, which we can use to upgrade our seed bank infrastructure or start our income-generating projects such as market gardening or poultry projects." Marjorie Jeke, a farmer in Murehwa District, in the neighbouring province of Mashonaland East said: "In the event that there are floods and our crops don’t do well in the field, the seed bank becomes useful as I will go back to the seed bank and retrieve my seeds for free to replant. “I don’t have to struggle borrowing from neighbours, or to bother my children with money because the seed bank has made it easier for us to survive as farmers.” Safety net According to recent field r[...]



Don’t ignore the one group that can make climate action happen

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 07:25:27 +0000

Last year, the planet suffered the terrible impacts of one of the worst drought and hunger crises seen for decades. At the end of 2015, 30 percent of the global land area was in drought conditions, one of the highest figures since modern record keeping began.   As many in the humanitarian sector will already be aware, this deep and extended crisis was brought on by a disastrous combination of climate change and the 2015 to 2016 El Niño cycle.    In Southern Africa, which was one of the hardest hit regions, countries faced their worst drought in 35 years. National emergencies were declared in Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. In South Africa, eight out of nine of the country’s provinces, which collectively produce 90 percent of the country’s maize, were affected.   This time last year, 18 million people in Southern Africa were estimated to be food insecure.   While El Niño is a naturally occurring global weather cycle that takes place every three to seven years, many scientists conclude that it and climate change combined last year to create new and extreme impacts.   This was the year in which the Earth’s atmosphere experienced its highest ever level of greenhouse gases. It was also the hottest year on record, the third record year in a row. Last year’s El Niño was also one of the strongest events on record, as well as one of the longest lasting.   And as anyone working in the humanitarian sector will know, the effects of this drought have been devastating. The impacts of El Niño went beyond causing immediate hunger, jeopardising the longer-term prospects for farming and often wiping out livelihoods in the process. These long-term impacts of the crisis continue to affect many people today.   The most vulnerable   The drought felt across Southern Africa has had particularly damaging outcomes for women smallholder farmers, who make up 43 percent of developing countries’ agricultural labour force.   As with any kind of disaster, women are particularly vulnerable to the impacts. Being a woman will often mean additional work and social burdens, but lower status and fewer privileges when disaster strikes.   Negative “coping mechanisms” commonly employed by women and girls became much more widespread as a result of the El Niño drought. For example, women frequently put their children and husband’s nutrition first during disasters, and were often the last to eat, if there was any food left for them.   Women and girls reported needing to walk for several hours longer each day to find scarce water, thus missing out on education, income and rest opportunities.   In Malawi and Lesotho, reports from communities working with ActionAid, the anti-poverty NGO, indicated that some women were resorting to sex work to make ends meet, putting them at higher risk of violence and HIV & AIDS. Child marriages were also reported to be on the increase.   These trends threaten women and younger girls' well-being, and can further hold them back from taking part in activities that could improve their own status and human rights, their resilience – and that of their family and community – in the longer term.   Fortunately, Southern Africa is now in a recovery phase. This is a long and slow process, because the extended drought has taken a severe toll on communities’ incomes, livestock, land, savings, education, health, and more.   But with climate change worsening, we know that extreme weather events are becoming increasingly frequent and severe. Any recovery and rebuilding efforts must have an eye on the future, and the climate change impacts that will likely continue to affect the region.    Recovery efforts as well as ongoing programmes in development and agriculture in the region must therefore prioritise adaptation, disaster prevention, and preparedness. Amid the crisis last year, a number of key initiatives can teach us important lessons on effective strategies to scale up resilience.   Women[...]



The foreign invader costing African farmers $3 billion

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 16:32:49 +0000

My brother is a Zimbabwean farmer who has done pretty well for himself, but is now a worried man.   Last season he lost a significant amount of his maize crop to a single, voracious pest, and he fears for the worst when the new growing season begins in November.   Fall armyworm, or FAW, is new to Africa but has made an immediate impact. The caterpillar, originally from Latin America, was first detected in Nigeria in January 2016. By January 2017 it had reached South Africa – spreading officially to 24 countries within a year on a lightening journey down the continent.   It’s a ravenous feeder, with an appetite for more than 80 plant species – including maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, millet, and cotton. If left untreated, it can cause crop losses of up to 50 percent, munching its way through a hectare within 72 hours.   A foreign invader   My brother, Sipho Mpofu, like virtually all farmers in southwestern Zimbabwe, grows maize, and in the last few years has added drought-tolerant sorghum and millet in response to the country’s drying climate.   He received his land from the government under its land reform programme that subdivided and redistributed fertile commercial farms to landless subsistence producers. He has seen his yields steadily improve and has been able to expand his farm, investing in new buildings and equipment.   Over the years, like other farmers in Mashonaland West Province, Mpofu would get occasional outbreaks of African armyworm, which marched over from East Africa several decades ago.   It’s a cousin to the FAW, almost as rapacious, with a particular fondness for maize. But having been around for many years, farmers now know how to deal with it.   Last year Mpofu encountered FAW for the first time. He assumed it was the usual armyworm (the difference is in the markings) and tackled them with the recommended tried-and-tested pesticides. To his dismay, they didn’t work.   Fortunately, the government was quick to recognise the new threat and recommended alternative pesticides. “That saved many farmers from certain ruin,” said Mpofu.   But he still lost about 20 percent of his maize crop. “There was a significant percentage [of armyworm] which was not affected by the pesticides,” he said, possibly because heavy rains prevented follow-up applications, or the caterpillars had burrowed deep into the plant. Foster Dongozi/IRIN Sipho Mpofu (foreground) inspects his maize Impact on Africa   According to a the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International, Africa stands to lose $3 billion worth of maize this coming year as a result of FAW.   This will be a dramatic setback for small-scale family farmers who grow the bulk of Africa’s maize. With limited access to inputs and services, they also receive low prices for the maize they do sell – and need all the support they can get to combat FAW.   David Phiri, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's coordinator for southern Africa, expressed his deep concern over “the emergence, intensity, and spread of the pest”.   As a moth, they are good flyers – averaging about 100 kilometres a night. They also multiply at a prodigious rate, with a female laying around 2,000 eggs in her 10-day caterpillar lifespan.   Climate change may also be an ally. Drought, followed by lots of rain – as southern Africa experienced last year after an especially strong string of El Niño seasons – seems to give them a boost.   “FAW has come to stay and it must be managed,” said Phiri. But farmers and agricultural extension officers in Africa are still learning how to identify the pest and understand its biology and ecology in order to manage it.   Mpofu has done his own research and is not optimistic. “I am worried by several issues,” he said. “The first one is that it is difficult to eliminate FAW, even using the recommended pesticides.” [...]



Why I’m proud to be African today

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 21:34:06 +0000

It’s not easy to get a sitting president to leave office. In some cases, corruption, violence, and institutional inertia have conspired to keep some African presidents in office for decades.   In other cases, the sheer weight of going up against a person who knows the system, has the theoretically unlimited resources of the state at their disposal, and to whom political appointees owe their allegiance is often too much for opposition parties.   So, elections are held, but there is rarely a surprise. Hence why today’s annulment of the election victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta by Kenya’s supreme court is such a landmark moment.   Change certainly can happen at the end of a constitutional term in office. But the power of incumbency means that it is rare for a sitting president to be turfed out if he or she is not ready to retire.   But in the last three years some significant shifts seem to be occurring. A quick survey of the status of incumbency across the continent suggests a growing political maturity – not in African voters, who have always turned out in big numbers to make their voices heard – but in African politicians who are increasingly willing to accept defeat.   In a world where generalisations and trends about Africa tend to be negative, this resurgence of democratic spirit is an important one to note.   Steps forward   It began in Nigeria in 2015 when Muhammadu Buhari beat then-president Goodluck Jonathan in a hotly contested poll. Given Nigeria’s chequered political history there was real apprehension over whether Jonathan would concede. But he not only conceded, but congratulated Buhari for his win.   Then John Dramini Mahama became Ghana’s first one-term president. He happily handed over to Nana Akufo-Addo in 2017, that man he defeated in the 2012 vote.   A slightly different set of circumstances led to an unexpected transition in the Gambia. Self-proclaimed ruler-for-life Yahya Jammeh surprisingly accepted electoral defeat after 22 years in office.   Granted Jammeh did try and walk back his concession after the opposition threatened to prosecute him for crimes committed in office, but in the end he fled into exile in Equatorial Guinea.   And then in Somalia, Mohamed Farmaajo took over from Hassan Sheikh Mahmood in February this year in a peaceful transition that defied the logic of the country’s ongoing civil war.   Status quo   Of course, it’s not all been smooth sailing. In Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza’s tampering with the constitution to stay in office has thrown that country into chaos. In Gabon, Omar Ali Bongo needed one of those last-minute 99 percent turnouts in his home constituencies in order to secure his stay in power.   Elections in Chad and in Guinea led to violent boycotts that did nothing to shift the status quo, while in Angola, although Jose dos Santos is nominally stepping aside, his hand-picked successor is about to slip into his shoes.   And while the victories of perennial presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda) were never in doubt, there was still a measure of disappointment that neither made any serious effort to at least sustain the illusion of democracy.   In Uganda, perpetual oppositionist Kizza Bessigye has been repeatedly detained and harassed, while Diane Rwigara, one of Kagame’s challengers, has lately gone missing.   Asante Kenya!   That’s what makes the news from Kenya so astonishing, and the court’s judges such unlikely heroes.   The commission that runs the elections had declared incumbent Kenyatta the winner of the 8 August election – despite loud protest by the opposition party, NASA. The opposition insisted that though the vote had been free and fair, the tallying of the results had been fiddled with.   So certain was NASA that it would not get a fair court hearing that it initially refused to lodge a petition and present its evidence of electoral fraud.   The de[...]



Climate-friendly farming solution fizzles in Zimbabwe

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:01:05 +0000

Best intentions don’t always translate into best practice, as David Dzama found out to his cost. At first, conservation agriculture seemed like the solution to the climate change-linked problems facing the smallholder farmer in Zimbabwe’s Seke district, about 50 kilometres south of Harare. Chief among these problems is food insecurity, which is now perennial in Zimbabwe, especially among rural smallholder farming communities. This means farmers need strategic help adapting to climate change and to build their resilience. But is conservation agriculture the way to go? Its champions do not always see eye-to-eye with supposed beneficiaries, and claims that it has been a clear success don’t appear to be backed up by the evidence. “When donors introduced conservation agriculture to us, our hopes were raised,” Dzama, 60, told IRIN. “They said it would give us good yields, and hunger would be a thing of the past.” Conservation agriculture (CA) is a way of farming that aims to avoid disrupting the structure, composition, and natural biodiversity of soil. While CA can be applied to a wide range of crop types, it always shares three characteristics: keeping soil covered with residues from previous crops or specially-grown cover plant material; keeping tillage to an absolute minimum; and rotating crops regularly. To avoid tilling, CA farmers are encouraged to dig shallow basins in the dry season, cover them with mulch, then sow at the onset of the first rains. This increases the chances of crops surviving dry spells and foreshortened rainy seasons because it reduces runoff and evaporation. Proponents of CA argue that it is a climate-smart practice that promotes food security by increasing yields, especially on farmland that is not irrigated. Need for solutions Some 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s rural population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. According to the country’s Climate Change Response Strategy, these livelihoods are threatened by ever more frequent and longer dry spells during the rainy season. “The majority of rural Zimbabweans live in semi-arid zones and will suffer disproportionately from the emerging impacts of climate change and variability, including disasters associated with extreme weather events such as droughts, periodic flooding, disease outbreaks for both humans and livestock, and loss of crop lands,” says the strategy document. When it was introduced in Dzama’s Seke community in 2009, almost every farmer took up CA, laboriously digging basins in the pre-farming season, covering them with plant residue, and planting when the first rains began to fall. The international agencies that introduced CA also supplied free fertiliser and seeds as incentives to farmers to take up the more labour-intensive agricultural work required. But while yields have generally been bigger on those portions of land given over to CA methods – generally between a third and a half of an acre – for many the boost is not enough to make much difference to their margins or indeed to overall food security. Although some are doing well and have never looked back, two years later, Dzama and his neighbours, like a lot of other farmers in other parts of the country, have grown disillusioned and abandoned CA practices altogether. ‘Dig and die’  “We call it ‘dhiga ufe’ [a Shona phrase meaning ‘dig and die’] instead of ‘dhiga udye’ [‘dig for good yields’] as the donors referred to it. There is so much labour involved, yet the results have never been good. It’s not worth it,” Dzama told IRIN, explaining that CA involved the additional chore of weeding crops – in the absence, thanks to mass urban migration, of sufficient manpower to do so. Tawanda Majoni/IRIN Dzama has abandoned CA, and now uses his crop residue as animal fodder The UN Food and Agricult[...]



Resettled Zimbabwe farmers left high and dry

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 12:26:14 +0000

Ten years ago, former bricklayer Samuel Musengi was allocated a nine-hectare plot to cultivate in Zimbabwe as part of an accelerated phase of land reform that saw tens of thousands of black families resettled on what were once vast, mostly white-owned commercial farms. It’s not going so well for him; nor for many others. Increasingly unpredictable weather and a lack of government support has made it all but impossible for Zimbabwe’s resettled farmers to achieve anything like the full potential of their plots. Even the government’s weather forecasts are unreliable, according to 42-year-old Musengi, who grows maize and beans and raises a few head of livestock in Wedza, some 90 kilometres southeast of Harare. “These people (the weather forecasters) get it wrong about when the rains will come most of the time. That makes it difficult to prepare our fields. If the Met Department cannot correctly tell when it will rain, what do you expect from simple farmers like me?” Musengi told IRIN. But it’s getting harder too for forecasters. Extreme weather shocks are occurring with rising frequency in Zimbabwe, “with a flood year immediately following a drought year”, according to a 2015 study by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Harare-based Research and Advocacy Unit. In addition to more floods and droughts, the report predicted that the onsets and ends of rainy seasons would continue to change and be interrupted by more frequent and longer dry spells, and that the distribution of rainfall across the country would also become more and more erratic – bad news indeed for Zimbabwean agriculture, which is mainly rain-fed. In the absence of accurate official forecasts, Musengi and scores of other resettled smallholder farmers in the Wedza area have turned in desperation to self-styled “prophets”. But they too are of little help. “The angels have advised the prophets not to predict the rains,” said Musengi. “Only God knows when it will rain. Other farmers go to traditional healers who carry out rainmaking ceremonies, but it is difficult to tell if the rains that come are due to those rituals.” For want of a pump By rights, rain shouldn’t be an issue for Musengi and the 20 other smallholders now living on the farm: It has a borehole deep enough to supply water for year-round irrigation. But the pump is broken and there’s no money to replace it. It is common for resettled farmers to have to share infrastructure, but during the violence and chaos of President Robert Mugabe’s fast-track land reform programme in the early 2000s, much vital equipment was vandalised or looted, leading to disputes over who should meet the costs of repairs. “Because of the droughts, we have not been able to produce enough,” said Musengi, who in recent years has seen fellow farmers lose cattle to disease, thirst, and lack of pasture. “I have been getting less than a tonne of maize from my field every year, meaning that I cannot sell anything and get money for inputs and other household needs.” Eddie Cross, an economist, farming expert, and opposition Movement for Democratic Change lawmaker, estimates that smallholder farmers should be producing some 10 tonnes of maize per hectare in a good year. One stated aim of land reform was to give subsistence farmers who had long toiled on low-quality soils in communally-owned areas – as well as junior civil servants, war veterans, pensioners, and businesspeople – access to more productive land so as to contribute to Zimbabwe’s food basket. More than 140,000 people benefitted from the scheme, with an average plot size of 12 hectares. However, in practice, many have been left to fend for themselves, with little support to face up to the growing effects of climate change. “The fast track land reform programme could have gone a long way in addressing the climate adaptation and resilience[...]