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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 09:07 GMT
Surviving Zimbabwe's runaway inflation
A woman shopping for bread in a supermarket
Bread is now so expensive that only the rich can afford to eat it

A Zimbabwean student, who asked to remain anonymous, told the BBC News website how she copes with living in a country with runaway inflation.

According to official figures, Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate now stands at 1593% - the world's highest.

The cost of absolutely everything in Zimbabwe has gone up. I am a student and my bus to the campus has trebled in price in the last two months. The cost of a meal has increased tenfold.

Most people have had to remove bread, milk, meat and eggs from their daily diets as these things are just too expensive now.

The implications of this rise in inflation are very serious. What it really means is the poor are getting even poorer.

In the last year, my school fees have quadrupled

Conditions are quite unbelievable as they are. People live in shacks if they are lucky, many simply live on the streets.

In the last year, my school fees have quadrupled. I know I am blessed, I am one of the lucky ones as I can still afford to go.

The atmosphere at university is one of support. We are very close and we help each other. Many people have been forced to leave because of this price rise but we all pull together and donate money so our friends can continue with their studies.

Education is a big problem in this country. The cost of basic secondary education has soared. Many young people have no choice but to drop out. It is very sad, there are no jobs for them to take up when they leave. Life is bleak.

Out of control

Daily life is enormously affected by this inflation. The cost of electricity, fuel and water is now out of control.

A Zimbabwe student reads by candlelight
Many parts of Harare now experience blackouts

The rise in petrol prices has meant that travelling by public transport has become very expensive, too expensive for most people. I know of some who walk 30km or 40km each way just to get to work.

My place of study is very far so I have no other option but to get on public transport. I don't know what will happen if prices go up much more though.

Water has been known to go for many weeks on end. My university has experienced many electricity blackouts but we just have to continue as best we can. It can happen at any time, those in authority do not have fixed times for turning it off.

Black market

Many people are now turning to the black market either as black market dealers or as customers of the black market to make ends meet.

Sanitary pads are not an option... women have no choice but to use cloth instead

If I get money, that's what I do. I buy foreign currency on the black market in order to safeguard it from the runaway inflation rates we are experiencing.

Life is just terrible in Zimbabwe. We are unable to buy the basics any more. Soap, lotions and even cooking oil cost around $20,000 (US$80 officially, US$4 on the black market) now.

Sanitary pads are simply not an option for women as they are just too expensive. Women have no choice but to use cloth instead.

The basics are not so basic to us anymore.

This is why I'm so determined to continue with my education. I am very ambitious and I hope to own my own company one day.

Hopefully that way, I will be able to help Zimbabwe out of this desperate situation.

If you are in Zimbabwe - or in other parts of Africa that suffer frequent water shortages and blackouts - how do you cope without water and electricity? What do you do if there is no fuel to run generators? Do you have any survival tips to pass on?

Your comments:

We in Ghana also suffer water shortages and blackouts, what we do is we normally store water whenever the tap flows and it rains, try get big tanks to store water during the rains by fixing a type of funnel in front of your roof where water can be collected easily and direct it to the tank for storage, as for electricity there is nothing to do about it, we use rechargeable lamps generators are out for some of us because we cannot afford them let alone fuel, candles are also an alternative but somehow dangerous if not well managed, the solar energy can be a very good one if you install the system to store it, expensive initially but very, very economical and useful, thanks
Esther, Accra-Ghana

We in Uganda have a lot of blackouts due to the fall in the level of the Lake. I make sure that when power is around i do the ironing put all the food in the freezer and when they is no power we use a lamp and set around the radio to keep our selfs entertained. We have a time table when the power will be turned off. My wife has a salon so we had to buy a generator but it will be turned on when they is a customer during the time of a blackout. Other time i spend alot of time in the office since they have a generator if i want to watch a football game or go down to the local pub to do so i have turned away the idea of getting cable TV since 15 days in a month we will not have power. Others have bought inverters but the cost is to high for me. Its hard but we have to move along.
Joshua , Kampala Uganda

Lusaka does generally have many power outages which is underatandable given the recent high demand, but to have no power for over two weeks simply boggles the mind. This is even more annoying when you discover that all around you have supply. Its now one month, power is restored after much noise, but the voltage is too low so you cannot use the cooker. We are already used to Charcoal; It saves us from exploding.

Having no water is by far worse than having no electricity. Not being able to flush the toilet, wash the dishes, brush my teeth, wash clothes, or anything, is intolerable. We take containers every day to those who have water and fill them up so that at least we can cook and drink. The washing is kept to a minimum by reusing cups and plates. It's bloody irritating though.
Harry Davies, Harare, Zimbabwe

To live poverty, to breathe excruciating suffering, to walk pain is indescribable. You realise yu have survived when you wake up the next day. Honestly I don't know how i manage but i know i always wake up the morrow
i prefer to be anonymous, Gweru , Zimbabwe

First the water problem that is being experianced in Zimbabwe is in Bulawayo and this is as a result of the failer to implement the zambezi water project that could have saved Bulawayo from the trammers that they are facing now. As a Zimbabwe the only advice i can give is to return to the drawing board and look at the zambezi water project again.
Mr. E.N , Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

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