Zimbabwe was once one of southern Africa’s most vibrant, productive, and resilient countries. However, over the past decade, the nation has faced a series of political and economic crises that have led to the general decline of Zimbabweans’ standard of living and a breakdown in public health, education, and infrastructure. Democratic development in Zimbabwe continues, as the country begins to implement a new constitution passed in 2013.
As of 2012, Zimbabwe had an estimated population of 13.7 million and a life expectancy of 56 years for men and 60 years for women. Furthermore, as of 2011, approximately 72 percent of all households were below the poverty line.
Although reforms since 2009 have helped stabilize the economy, a significant number of people in Zimbabwe are still food insecure. Formal unemployment levels remain very high and industries continue to operate well below capacity. The uncertain political climate and domestic policies restrict foreign and domestic investment needed for economic growth. The country’s estimated external debt of $8.9 billion, two-thirds of which is overdue, severely limits development lending to the country.
Zimbabwe’s high mortality and illness rates are a result of an under-resourced health delivery system, which is overstretched by the high burden of HIV, TB, and maternal and childhood illnesses. A decade of worsening economic conditions and rising costs has eroded a once vibrant health system. HIV prevalence has declined since its peak in the last decade; however, Zimbabwe still has one of the highest prevalence rates in the world at 15 percent.
To ensure that Zimbabwe’s future is in the hands of Zimbabweans, USAID works with its partners and the Government of Zimbabwe to strengthen health services, increase food security, support economic resilience, and promote democratic governance.
Last updated: September 12, 2014