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These before and after satellite photos were created by Craig J. Richardson, a Salem College economist, using Google Earth, a powerful new software tool that pools images from various satellite imaging companies. The farm photos presented here were taken in the province of Mashonaland West which possesses some of the richest soil in Zimbabwe. The exact location of the farms is shown by the pushpin icon on the country photo. The bottom of the photos lists the exact location coordinates, as well as the altitude. The photos are also time-stamped "2005" and "2006". Because the photos are updated on a rolling basis, it is impossible to know the exact date they were taken. According to Google, the "2005" pictures could have been taken anytime between 2003 and 2005. The 2006 photos were posted about three months ago, meaning they were taken in the first quarter of 2006 and are thus fairly close to the farmlands' current state.
Between the two photos, rainfall has been reported to be "average to above average" according to FEWS.net, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network of USAID. This means that drought does not explain the recent drying up of thousands of reservoirs as well as the farmland.
*Google releases the rights of these images for non-commercial purposes only. Scroll through the images below to see the stark differences in the land before and after land reforms.