Here's a report from Daniel Howden in Bulawayo on 'the shocking disintegration of Zimbabwe':
[Zimbabwe] now has the lowest life expectancy for women anywhere in the world: 34.As Howden goes on to say, this isn't an an act of God, but 'a catastrophe aggravated by the ruthless, kleptocratic reign of Robert Mugabe'. It's a catastrophe, all the same, that merits more of the world's attention.
The World Health Organisation has plotted this precipitous fall in women's mortality in the former British colony from 65, little more than a decade ago, to today's low. Speaking privately, WHO officials admitted to The Independent that the real number may be as low as 30, as the present figures are based on data collected two years ago.
The reasons for this plunge are several. Zimbabwe has found itself at the nexus of an Aids pandemic, a food crisis and an economic meltdown that is killing an estimated 3,500 people every week. That figure is more than those dying in Iraq, Darfur or Lebanon.
Some in Zimbabwe are fighting back:
In this climate of fear and despair, it is a women's group that has consistently defied the regime to go out on to the streets and protest. Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) was set up three years ago and its founder, businesswoman Jenni Williams, has been arrested countless times and had her life threatened on several occasions.
Despite this there are now an estimated 30,000 members, who are demonstrating for basic rights including access to food, education and healthcare.