Original Research

Learning from past and current food security efforts and challenges in Zimbabwe: The years 1430–2020

Sifelani Ngwenya, Wilfred Lunga, Elize S. van Eeden
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 14, No 1 | a1210 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v14i1.1210 | © 2022 Sifelani Ngwenya, Wilfred Lunga, Elize S. van Eeden | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 September 2021 | Published: 27 September 2022

About the author(s)

Sifelani Ngwenya, Africa Centre Disaster Studies, Faculty of Natural Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Wilfred Lunga, Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Centre for Disaster Studies, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Elize S. van Eeden, School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa


Zimbabwe has been experiencing food insecurity for many centuries. This study sought to explore and learn from Zimbabwe’s past and current food security (FS) efforts and challenges, through three historical periods, namely the precolonial, colonial and postcolonial, from about 1430 to 2020. The year 1430 marks the establishment of the Monomotapa state, one of the starting points for Zimbabwe’s own national reconstruction. Adopting a qualitative paradigm, data were obtained using document review and interviewing 85 purposively selected key informants, some of whom were found using snowballing. The study found that the adopted FS strategies during the precolonial, colonial and postcolonial periods were dynamic and mainly derived by new political agendas and crises. The food production and storage aspects of the colonial period were built around agricultural extension services and Grain Marketing Board strategies. The postcolonial period FS initiatives pivoted on humanitarian and development programs. Zimbabwe’s FS initiatives across the three historical periods remain susceptible to various challenges (droughts, political antagonism, bureaucracy, partisanship, corruption, incapacitation and weak support systems). As such, Zimbabwe’s food insecurity levels remain far away from being a reality, unless the identified challenges are taken head-on by all stakeholders. Therefore, the study recommends that informed local wisdom be given space in finding a lasting solution to food insecurity. Meanwhile, multistakeholder inclusivity, knowledge development and management should be made the crux of FS-related initiatives. This could foster new partnerships and encourage the ethic of working together and participation towards ensuring FS.


food security; food insecurity; precolonial; colonial; postcolonial; challenges


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Crossref Citations

1. An overview of Volume 14, No 1 (2022)
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