Twenty kilometres outside Harare, a 40-year-old teacher explains that she cannot survive on her monthly earnings of 1.9m Zimbabwean dollars, equivalent to $7,600 at the official exchange rate but only $7.60 on the black market. Her husband makes even less. She walks 5km to work every day only “because there is nothing else to do”, but some of her colleagues no longer show up at all. She grows vegetables in her back yard; the greens, she says, are “our chicken and our pork, our eggs and our beef”.
There is no running water for most of the day, so she fills buckets and bottles whenever taps work and has to boil the water as it is no longer safe to drink. Electricity is also scarce, so she cooks on a wood fire in her back yard and buys candles whenever she can afford to. She wears a worn-out anorak and woollen hat in her small house, as she cannot afford heating to fight the biting winter cold. To feed and school her three children, she borrows money to buy a few things, then goes to South Africa or Zambia to sell them.