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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:How Much Did Droughts Matter? Linking Rainfall and GDP Growth in Zimbabwe
Author:Richardson, Craig J.
Year:2007
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society
Volume:106
Issue:424
Period:July
Pages:463-478
Language:English
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:droughts
economic development
rain
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Economics and Trade
Politics and Government
History and Exploration
Drought and Desertification
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/4496463
Abstract:Since 2000, Zimbabwe's government, as well as other international aid organizations, have repeatedly blamed the country's sharp economic downturn on persistent and severe droughts. Indeed, past research has shown strong links between rainfall and maize yields in sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting that the lack of rainfall is an attractive culprit for the recent collapse of Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy. This article probes this hypothesis further, by examining primary data from 38 countrywide rainfall stations during the 1960-1961/2002-2003 time-frame, in order to put the recent economic decline in better historical context. The article finds little evidence that Zimbabwe's recent economic difficulties were caused by either low or erratic rainfall. It shows that Zimbabwe, unlike most of its neighbours, successfully made its economy less dependent on rainfall through its highly sophisticated dam and reservoir system. This system allowed its commercial and communal farming system sectors to weather even severe droughts like the one which occurred in the 1991-1992 growing season. The article further shows that recent droughts have been relatively minor in the context of Zimbabwe's rainfall trends, suggesting that the recent collapse of the economy is far more likely a result of mismanaged government policies such as excessive monetary growth, restrictive pricing policies, and the abandonment of the rule of law and property rights. Notes, ref., sum. (Critique by Jens A. Andersson in: African Affairs, vol. 106, no. 425 (2007), p. 681-690, with a rebuttal by Richardson on p. 691-696.) [Journal abstract, edited]
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