When inconsistent policy, inefficient government-controlled markets and poor infrastructure are combined with extreme weather events, the result is almost always misery in the form of food shortages, as is the case in Zimbabwe at present.
Droughts and floods always have a devastating impact on agriculture. But the second-round effects on livelihoods are manageable in countries that are economically stable, depending on the magnitude of the impact.
For countries with economic instability and low capability of mitigation, there is usually a disaster months after the extreme weather events. This is what is happening in Zimbabwe at the moment. For context, Zimbabwe's maize prospects - their staple crop - are not in good shape because of a drought which delayed planting at the start of the 2018/19 production season. When it finally rained, it rained excessively, as witnessed during Cyclone Idai at the start of the year.
The maize harvest is currently estimated at 800,000 tonnes, down by 53% from the previous year, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture. The hardships emanating from this poor harvest, exacerbated by unstable economic conditions, are being felt across the country.
The World Food Programme estimates that more than a third of Zimbabwe's...