Research Student: Dr Philani Moyo
Urban food insecurity, coping strategies and resistance in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe was once touted as Southern Africa's bread basket but since late 2001 it has been characterised by acute national and household food insecurity. Physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food has declined for most households, but more so for the poor in both urban and rural areas. Zimbabwe’s economy is also in meltdown, recording negative growth rates since 1999. Inflation has soared to 7 982.1 percent, making it the highest in the world. Hundreds of industries and businesses have closed over the last seven years and unemployment has jumped from around 45 percent in 1995 to over 80 percent. For Zimbabweans living in the turmoil of such economic meltdown, hyperinflation is spreading poverty, as even the most basic food and non-food commodities are unaffordable.
Against this background, this thesis investigates and analyses livelihood strategies employed by the urban poor in an endeavour to bridge household food gaps under the prevailing conditions of national food insecurity and macro-economic melt-down. Questions about the effectiveness, viability and sustainability of strategies employed are addressed. The role and capacity of the state in addressing the food crisis is also considered: What has been the state’s response to the food crisis? How effective have been these state responses? To what extent are state policies, laws and politics a constraint on people’s livelihood strategies? Are people’s strategies being supported or destroyed by the state? Are there conflicts between state responses and people’s livelihood strategies?
In the process of answering all these questions, a political economy approach which recognises macro-economic and political developments in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 is used to explain the role of the state in creating and perpetuating the food and economic crisis.