Zimbabweans Scavenge to Survive

February 2, 2009 at 2:30 pm | Posted in News | 1 Comment

girlIn Zimbabwe these days, scavenging isn’t a hobby — it’s a means of base-level survival. “Along a road in Matabeleland, barefoot children stuff their pockets with corn kernels that have blown off a truck as if the brownish bits, good only for animal feed in normal times, were gold coins,” reads this New York Times story on a stark situation in which “the half-starved haunt the once bountiful landscape of Zimbabwe, where a recent United Nations survey found that 7 in 10 people had eaten either nothing or only a single meal the day before.” This mass starvation is the result of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s inhumane policies, by which farms were systematically stolen from their owners — with many farmers and their families slain in the process. The result is an economic catastrophe, as the farmlands now yield a minuscule fraction of what they once did, and unemployment is rampant. The U.N. survey ” found that the proportion of people who had eaten nothing the previous day had risen to 12 percent from zero, while those who had consumed only one meal had soared to 60 percent from only 13 percent last year. For almost three months, from June to August, Mr. Mugabe banned international charitable organizations from operating, depriving more than a million people of food and basic aid.” According to the Times, rural and urban Zimbabweans “have become scavengers, living off the land and surviving on field mice and wild fruit, white ants and black beetles.”

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