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Introduction to Country Context

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The Republic of Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and shares borders with Botswana, Zambia, South Africa and Mozambique. She gained her independence from the British rule in1980 and developed one of the strongest economies and health systems in Southern Africa until the late 1990s when there was a rapid decline (Zimbabwe Health Assessment 2010)[1].

The country lies just north of the Tropic of Capricorn between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers. The total surface area of 390,757 square kilometres is made up of 386,847 sq km of land and 3,910 sq km of water. Only 8.24% of the land area is arable. The major tribes are Shona and Ndebele with minor sub dialects.

Zimbabwe has an estimated population of 11,632 (Census 2002), with an annual growth rate of 0.11 percent. Approximately two thirds of the young population live in rural areas and about 40% of the population is under the age of 15 years[2].

The country is divided into eight administrative provinces, two cities with provincial status and sixty two districts. The executive, legislature and judicial system constitute the three pillars of government. There is a multi party political system.

The main economic activities include mining, agriculture and tourism. About 70% of the surface rock is granite, which is rich in mineral wealth (Platinum, gold, asbestos, coal, nickel, iron, copper, lithium, and precious stones)[3] . The estimated annual growth domestic product (GDP) has improved from minus 17.7 in 2008 to 9.0 in 2010 (World Bank 2010).

Between independence and mid-1990s, Zimbabwe developed one of the strongest economies and health systems in the Southern Africa region. Economic challenges associated with macroeconomic policy changes, economic structural adjustment programmes (ESAP), political, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, 2001 (ZIDERA) and effects of natural disasters, recurrent droughts, have led to rapid decline in economic indicators.

The major economic activities for Zimbabwe, that is, tourism, mining and agriculture, were severely affected by the economic collapse. Health indicators also deteriorated.


References

  1. Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. Zimbabwe Health System Assessment 2010
  2. World Bank Report, 2010
  3. Government of Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey, 2010-2011.