Zimbabwe, April 2020
Zimbabwe is in lockdown because of Covid-19.
My friend Julie Caddick contacted some of her staff and present and past students to ask how they were managing with regard to food, medication, water and electricity. Here are some of their replies:-
* Electricity & water yes! Food is so difficult to buy. Yesterday I drove to (a) supermarket; the queue was just too long a policeman was controlling it. I then drove to (another supermarket); just to get parking was a nightmare. When I came out of the car, the 2 queues were just too long. (A third supermarket) wants you to call then go & collect but they don’t have some of the stuff I need and are far tooooo expensive.
* We are in the city; we have access to all above, (but) just how much do you have in your pocket and are you prepared to pay the price?
* On food, basics are becoming beyond the reach of many. (Same with medication.) Getting mealie meal is a challenge. The little that is available is getting too expensive at $290 for 10kg. Water availability is becoming a big challenge too, worse so when we are expected to wash our hands often. Worth noting that the producer price of maize and cereals and small grains was increased by 100% today. It will double the price in the supermarkets.
* It is very difficult to keep supplied with even the basics because everything is so expensive or not readily available. Travel in general is a challenge because we live in fear of contracting the virus. The only good angle from our family is that we have no problem with water. We have a borehole. So we are okay for vegetables.
* Medication is a challenge at the clinic that I collect my supplies. Previously we used to be given 3 months supply but sometimes we are given 2 weeks supply. Last month I had to request to buy from the pharmacy at 600 rtgs for one month supply.
* Myself I have run out of food.
(NB only money earner in family of 4. Because of lock down can’t work)
* Water is available for a few days compared to its absence. As a result one must have many containers or a tank to store water.
Electricity: Load shedding has improved but the challenge is raising the money in bulk to buy the 200 units at once.
Medication: is very expensive and unaffordable for many people.
Food: in my area food is very expensive if you can get what you require. The basic food is readily available on the Black market. It is expensive and they want cash Bond or foreign currency.
* For us
Water we ok
Electricity we ok
Medication for now ok
But food is almost finished
* We are having challenges with food and largely mealiemeal and vegetables which make it difficult for us to adhere to the lockdown. In this last week, ending Sat 18 April the entire section of our community which numbers close to 2000 were meeting everyday at the shops to queue for mealiemeal: whenever it came, a scramble ensured and social distancing was not part of the scenario. If people are not infecting each other, it is by God’s mercies. The section is divided into two and hence it has two chairpersons. As chairpersons we have tried to control and maintain order by seeking the assistance of the police and our community security personal, but where food is concerned all this was operation impossible because the maize meal was coming in short supplies. Relish has also become a big problem, no vegetables, meat is very expensive. I cannot afford to buy bread for my family because it has become unaffordable. I have run out of foodstuffs.
As for electricity it is okay in my place though the 80 houses close to my place have not been having electricity for 3 weeks now due to the faulty transformer and (because) workers are on lock down the affected houses are forced to buy firewood which is also very expensive.
There’s also a problem of water on few houses in our area and city council brings them water in bowsers and they are only allowed 6 buckets a day.
* Electricity now very expensive, can’t afford it any more. We now using fire for cooking and firewood expensive too
* Sometimes we go for 2 to 3 days without water, mealie meal is scarce….
* In my area the biggest challenge is water. Then medication, medical aid and treatment are not affordable. I purchase some and leave some medication for my hypertension because it’s not affordable. As for food stuffs it’s unbelievable, our income is no longer enough for our upkeep. We now depend on our children who should be running their own lives.
From an evening student
* We closed at Women’s University where I’m studying for my first degree in social work; however lecturers suggested lessons continue via online. Just trying to get basics and data for schooling online is really proving a challenge, as I also have to save up for the school fees which were also hiked beginning of the year. I can only pray things will ease up although I know the lock down is much needed in order to safeguard our health. With our gardener also not coming due to lock down, the garden had died so I have been working on it the past week. I managed to clear it and its ready for planting so we can have our own vegetables as vegetables are costing an arm and a leg for sure. But in this all I thank God for HIS protection because I believe it could be worse in our nation if it wasn’t for HIS grace.
The hunger in the homes is very real. I can’t help but wonder that, if I’m finding it hard, what about families and homes whose livelihood is based on selling like the vegetable and sweet vendors or the guys who push scannias carrying stuff for people from the market? May God show us HIS mercy and supply for our needs and the needs of every home according to HIS riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Please continue to pray for the people of Zimbabwe.