Zimbabwe’s semi-arid areas have been neglected by the state and by the private sector. They have not been well integrated into markets and the failures of small town markets are not being addressed. The needs and demands of their inhabitants are not articulated through the political or policy process. Zimbabwe’s poor are substantially located in the semi-arid regions.
Research findings indicate a massive decline in wellbeing and consumption in the 1990s and an inability to rebuild assets after the devastation wrought by the 1991 drought. Local economies are largely un-monetised as huge swathes of semi-arid Zimbabwe retreat into subsistence. Markets are not generally sufficiently organised or attractive to engage poor people: barter dominates as a form of exchange and poor households make few cash-based transactions through the market.