In Pictures: Zimbabwe drought lingers on

Across Zimbabwe, the impact of a severe El Nino-induced drought continues to drastically affect families. The most recent Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee report indicates an estimated 2.2 million people are in need of immediate food aid, with that figure expected to climb to more than 4 million by 2017.

Cereal production has declined by 42 per cent in Zimbabwe compared to the previous five-year average. With a cereal deficit of 650,000 tons, the government has had to look to other countries to import staples. Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


The Mudzi river, which normally goes dry in September, was already void of water in May. People who do not have access to a functioning borehole in their village come and dig in the riverbed for water which they find, approximately 30 centimetres below. Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


In response to the drought, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is rehabilitating boreholes to give communities improved access to potable water. Communities are responsible for managing the boreholes, constructing fences to protect them, and to make any necessary repairs. Some boreholes were rehabilitated using material salvaged from damaged wells, some dug as far back as 1989. Many of the boreholes also have connected cattle troughs to catch any runoff and provide much needed water for livestock. Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


As the drought deepens, herders must travel greater distances to find water and suitable grazing land for their livestock. Already, 25,000 heads of cattle across the country have died during the drought, impacting a farmer's ability to secure income for his family. Photo: Jamie LeSueur, IFRC


It has been six seasons since Patricia Nhauro’s family has harvested a viable crop. It has been even longer since her family has eaten three meals a day. “Probably not since before Mugabe was born,” Patricia says with a laugh, referring to Robert Mugabe, the 92-year-old President of Zimbabwe. The Zimbawe Red Cross Society, with the support of the IFRC, is helping people cope with the lingering drought through the distribution of monthly mobile cash transfers. Recipients, like Patricia, receive a text message indicating their monthly allotment of $40 US dollars is ready to be collected. “Being given cash, it gives me a choice,” says Patricia. “This money has made a lot of difference. It’s quite different from going on a hungry tummy every day." Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC


Aside from focusing on the immediate needs of those affected by the drought, IFRC's Secretary General Elhadj As Sy, announced, in May, a 110 million Swiss franc initiative which will also aim to strengthen the resiliency of people to cope with shifting weather patterns. The initiative aims to reach 1 million people in seven southern African countries through 2019. Photo: Juozas Cernius, IFRC