Adapting to climate change in Zimbabwe through sustainable livelihoods 

As the impacts of climate change in Zimbabwe threaten its people and ecosystems, our local partner, Christian Care, is working with communities in Masvingo Province to help them adapt to their environment and cope better with an uncertain future.  

What are the impacts of climate change in Zimbabwe? 

Zimbabwe, a country of abundant human and natural resources, is widely recognised as one of the most climate-vulnerable regions in the world.  

This comes down to the interplay of several factors, including its geographic position, limited coping capacity, already vulnerable populations, and the country’s heavy dependency on rain-fed agriculture, such as maize.   

Drought, food insecurity, and malnutrition 

The increasing frequency of droughts, storms, floods, and other climate-induced threats in Zimbabwe is making life particularly difficult for rural communities, whose livelihoods are heavily dependent on agriculture. 

Climate change is accelerating the issue of food insecurity in the country, as the prices of goods skyrocket and basic commodities such as maize meal become inaccessible to many.  

Food insecurity combined with erratic water supply is leaving families and children increasingly vulnerable to disease, such as cholera and malaria, and malnutrition. 

A farming family in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo Province. The ongoing drought and changing rainfall patterns have made it difficult for rural communities that rely on the land as their main source of food and income. Joel Pratley / Act for Peace

Climate-induced displacement and protection threats 

Climate-induced forced displacement has become one of the most obvious ecological challenges in Zimbabwe, leading to societal breakdown in the Masvingo Province.  

Poor and marginalised people, vulnerable to food and income insecurity, are being driven from their homes with greater frequency and in greater numbers.  

Even when they move areas, many uprooted families continue to struggle to access livelihoods and food security. As these areas become increasingly overpopulated and impacted further by climate change, protection threats and risks continue to worsen. 

How can communities adapt to climate change in Zimbabwe? 

As climate change continues to impact Zimbabwe at a micro and macro level, adaption is a key challenge for communities. 

Adaption refers to the process through which societies increase their ability to cope with an uncertain future, which involves taking appropriate action and making the adjustments and changes to reduce the negative impacts of climate change (UNFCCC).

Our local partner, Christian Care, is currently implementing a Climate Resilient Conservation Farming project in Zaka District, Masvingo Province. 

This project aims to enhance community resilience and adaptability to threats posed by climate-induced displacement, through improved access to sustainable livelihoods, increased food and water security, and improved ability to address protection threats. 

Christian Care focuses especially on helping more vulnerable people in the community, including people with disability, who are most at-risk. 

Helping communities adapt through small livestock training 

Providing access to sustainable livelihoods, such as small livestock farming, is one of the ways Christian Care is helping families adapt to climate change in Zimbabwe.

Christian Care gave Fiona’s mother two goats and small livestock training on behalf of her daughter and since then, two goats have become eight. 

Fiona and her family have received small livestock training from our local partner, Chrisitan Care, so they can better cope with the impacts of climate change. Credit: Christian Care

“We only owned one goat and depended on casual labour for food, but now we can sell a goat whenever we are under pressure to buy food.”

–          Fiona’s mother, program participant

But Fiona still needed to get to school and Christian Care wanted to help. Thankfully they also managed to get her assistance through a local rehabilitation centre. Now she has special shoes so she can enrol for school this year. This news brought joy to her entire community. 

With a smile on her face, her mother said, “I am grateful to Christian Care and Act for Peace for changing my daughter‘s life”. 

Backed by Act for Peace’s community and the support of the Australian government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), Christian Care will continue to work with families in Zimbabwe to help strengthen their resilience to the impacts of climate change and have a safe place to belong for years to come. 

Act for Peace gratefully acknowledges the support of The Charitable Foundation (TCF).

*Name changed for safety reasons.

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