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Last Updated: Monday, 15 October 2007, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
In pictures: Hardship in Zimbabwe

Mother with her daughters and son - following the death of her husband, the family were forced to move from Bulawayo

Zimbabwe's most needy families are helped by NGOs and churches to survive. But the spiralling crisis means they now are also struggling to provide relief.

Zimbabwean sick father and daughter at home in a Bulawayo suburb

The economic collapse intensifies the hardship many families face. Joseph is suffering from chronic diarrhoea after drinking contaminated water. He is too weak to work.

Zimbabwean women scavenge for water from a broken pipe in a suburb of Bulawayo

Water supplies in the second city, Bulawayo, only run for a few hours a week. Communities rely on the church to distribute water. "We are thirsty for everything now," a pastor says.

Zimbabwean grandmother Margaret and one of her grandchildren

Margaret, 74 lives in a rural district. The riverbeds are dry after the rains failed last year. She cares for her four grandchildren, orphaned by Aids.

Margaret with her granddaughters - the girls are cousins

Her husband earns a little money from fixing things. But there is nothing to buy at their nearest store. Margaret says: "I don't have any soap to wash the children before school."

Zimbabwean grandmother, Margaret picking up melons with her grandchild

"And we don't even have any food. We have been surviving on melons for two months, we have nothing else," Margaret admits. "Death is looming for us if we don't get food."

An undertaker seals the coffin of nine-month-old Vincent, who died of an Aids related illness - as his father Ben (blue denim jacket) looks on

A pastor explains that currently, he is holding four or five funerals a week for those dying among his own congregation or their relatives.

Ben rides with the coffin carrying his baby son on the route to a Bulawayo cemetery

"Because of HIV, a lack of food and water, people become so vulnerable," he says.

A church pastor lowers the coffin as nine-month-old Vincent is buried among thousands of the city's newly dug child graves

UK relief and development agency Tearfund is appealing for support for churches in Zimbabwe to help them continue their work. [Pictures by Marcus Perkins, www.tearfund.org]

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