How to “Help” Zimbabwe?

“Draft a plan to help Zimbabwe if Mugabe were removed from power and your NGO were invited in to help.”

That was the prompt for my Third World Development class final. No joke.

As of 9am this morning, cholera deaths in Zimbabwe have officially topped 1,000. UN health officials estimate more than 16,000 are infected, but hospitals have run out of medications and supplies for treatment. (Oh, and Mugabe is claiming that the outbreak—soon to become an epidemic—is the work of British terrorists.) Unemployment is climbing toward 90%, life expectancy falling toward 30 (it’s really difficult for me to imagine having 2 years left to live at this stage of my life) and the price of basic goods like bread, milk and sugar doubles every 24 hours, thanks to an inflation rate near 2,000,000%. More than 3 million Zimbabweans have fled the oppressive regime, causing refugee crises and escalating tensions in neighboring South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. And in a nation formerly known as “the breadbasket of Africa,” exporting agricultural products across the continent and around the world, 5 million people (half its current population) face eminent starvation. Short of adding systematic genocide to the rising tide of political “disappearances” and arrests, it’s hard to imagine the situation getting much worse.

What would you do?

(If I’m not still near-hopelessly behind, I’ll post some of my musings later)

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Africa is Going to Break My Heart.

The Congo is on fire…again. Rebels and conspiracy and murder and rape. Thousands of refugees and counting. The footage is horrifying, but what got me was hearing the palpable exasperation of the aid workers being interviewed, and realizing that I’m starting to know how they feel.

I stood there in the middle of the hallway of the McKay building not sure whether I wanted more to scream or to cry. “Why can’t we stop this!?”

Perhaps the question is so vexing because the answer really is, “We could.”