Earlier this year, during a visit to rural Zimbabwe, I met Victor digging in the middle of the dry Mudzi riverbed. Kneeling in the dirt next to him, I asked what he was doing. “Digging for water,” he said. He had indeed been digging for about an hour, he explained, and managed to draw about half a gallon of dirty water.

Like millions of people in Zimbabwe, and tens of millions across southern Africa, Victor was struggling to survive in the midst of a terrible drought, influenced by one of the worst El Niños on record. As I write this, an estimated 40 million people are affected, with 23 million of them likely to need emergency assistance before the end of the year. It is a truly desperate situation that has occurred in near silence, with little of the attention and resources needed to reduce its impact.

Visit the WDR section for more information

Download: World Disasters Report 2016

Publication date: 13/10/2016

Document status: Final


Document data

National Societies
Water and sanitation
Document type