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Droughts and Heat Waves

Drought-stricken Zimbabwe declares state of disaster

Cattle, thin like their owners, wander in a parched riverbed. Desperate villagers barter a few fish for maize because there is no money for food. In this drought-stricken area of Zimbabwe, some people allege that who you know determines whether you'll get state food aid, with those out of favor with local officials going hungry.

Underscoring the severity of the drought linked to the El Nino weather pattern hitting much of southern Africa, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe declared a state of disaster Thursday, with the hope of speeding up the flow of aid to needy communities.

The drought has devastated crops. The situation is especially acute in Zimbabwe, where a...