Over the last decade, Zimbabwe has faced a number of challenges resulting in reduced social and economic development.

Agricultural production, the mainstay of the economy continues to experience severe systemic challenges within its entire value chain ranging from lack of agricultural financing to lack of affordable inputs, resulting in the country depending on imports to meet the demand for domestic consumption and industrial needs. The reduced economic development has also been exacerbated by more frequent occurrence of climate change induced hazards such as droughts and floods (longer, more frequent dry spells and fewer more intense rains).


A hazard is a process or event which is a potential threat to humans and their welfare. (Proag, V. (2014). The concept of vulnerability and resilience, Procedia of Economic and Finance, 18, pg 369-376.)

The frequently occurring hazards affecting rural livelihoods in Zimbabwe are:

  1. Drought
  2. Mid-season dry spells
  3. Livestock diseases and deaths
  4. Crop pests and diseases outbreaks
  5. Sharp drop or increase in cereal prices
  6. Sharp drop or increase in livestock prices
  7. Diarrheal diseases outbreaks
  8. HIV and AIDS
  9. Floods
  10. Land mines

Although Zimbabwe is endowed with natural resources, the following environmental management challenges are experienced in some parts of the country; water pollution, poor waste management, deforestation and land degradation, veldt fires, poaching and biodiversity loss.

Climate change negatively affects the country’s agro-based economy whose livelihoods largely depend on rain fed agriculture and livestock production.

While agricultural production has been declining, the manufacturing sector also witnessed a decline in capacity utilisation from an average of 57% in 2011, to 37.3% in 2015. The mining sector is also constrained by energy and transport infrastructure challenges, depressed international mineral prices and shortage of utilities among other factors. Fiscal space remains severely constrained due to poor performance of revenue inflows against the background of rising recurrent expenditures and a shrinking tax base. Consequently, these challenges led to significant skills flight and erosion of private and public financing, thereby negatively affecting quality service delivery and achievement of well-being of the population.


The national poverty rate to 72.3% with a rural poverty rate at 84.3%. The national extreme poverty (food poverty) rate stands at 16% and 30.4% of the rural population live in extreme poverty and 33% of under-5 children are stunted (chronically malnourished). While there has been a marginal economic growth in recent years there has been an underlying downward trend in food security since 2009 – exacerbated by the low and erratic rains in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Over the last 10 years between 12% and 60% of the population have been food insecure with variations of up to 200% between consecutive years.

With such a background and increased frequency of hazards, the resilience approach is the most likely successful pathway to development for most affected communities.


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