It’s mid-morning, and nobody is on the streets of Irisville. The Zimbabwean village looks like it has been deserted.
In fact the locals are trying their best to find shade from the scorching sun amid temperatures of 40°C.
Irisville is typical of many parts of southern Africa today: trees and shrubs stand bare, and on those that have survived, the leaves are burnt.
‘This is how it has been for the last three years,’ says Douglas Maselea, a 56-year-old farmer and father of eight who has lived in Irisville since 1985.
‘The sun has dried up our water sources and anything you plant in the farm is scorched before it matures.’
The UN estimates that more than 11 million people don’t have enough food to survive across nine southern African countries. The global climate crisis is at its most acute here.
In March 2019, two cyclones destroyed crops in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, compounding the food crisis facing these nations. Zimbabwe is also facing ongoing economic and political challenges which has led to rising food prices and made it harder for humanitarian agencies to provide effective support.
Douglas used to have a flourishing farm, but today nothing is growing because of the drought. ‘I used to harvest maize and groundnuts but have not been able to grow anything since 2017 because there is no rain.