Zimbabwe, Once Well-Fed, Turns to Eating Bugs

As Mugabe blocks aid, starving population's plight nosedives
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2008 6:27 AM CST
Children pick up single corn kernels, once only eaten by animals, spilled on the roadside by trucks from South Africa in Masvingo, south of Harare, Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008.   (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
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(Newser) – Zimbabwe was once "a breadbasket for all of southern Africa," writes Celia Dugger in the New York Times, but a manmade crisis has turned the once-prosperous country into a land of scavengers. The UN says 7 of 10 Zimbabweans eat one meal or fewer a day, thanks to the catastrophic agricultural policies of Robert Mugabe that precipitated economic collapse. "But this year, the hunger is much worse," Dugger reports from outside Harare.

On the tiny farms on Mashonaland, which once provided the entire region with food, villagers have been reduced to eating crickets and beetles. But this year Mugabe blocked international charities from providing food to Zimbabwe, insisting they are part of a Western conspiracy to overthrow him. One villager said she could barely survive through the Zimbabwean summer, but when winter comes, "only God knows what will happen."