‘Zimbabwe is no longer Zimbabwe’

Seminar date: 
10 March 2009
Speaker(s): Dr. Marleen Dekker (African Studies Centre)

A political and economic crisis has unfolded in the past decade in Zimbabwe that has resulted in double-digit negative growth rates, skyrocketing inflation, a decline in the rule of law and a disintegration of markets, notably rural input, output and labour markets. There has been little data collection to document the effects of this crisis on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. To understand the current changes from a long-term perspective, we revisited 75 households that are part of a panel study covering the years 1994 to 2000. These households are in six different villages, cross two agro-ecological regions and are of two settlement types (old resettlement and communal small-scale farming areas). Building on existing survey data from the late 1990s, we collected new survey data in 2007/8 and are now able to explore important developments regarding the mobility of household members, crop choices, engagement in off-farm activities and the development of asset holdings, notably cattle ownership. We are relating these developments to the local and regional institutional environment ranging from traditional village heads and local security forces to private cotton input suppliers and government support programmes.