By Ndatenda Njanike
A TOTAL of 2.61 million people or 27% of the population in rural Zimbabwe are facing severe food shortages, according to a report released this week.
The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) said the food insecurity in Zimbabwe was primarily due to the shocks and hazards experienced in the country in recent months.
These included droughts, reduced livelihood opportunities due to restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, pests, diseases, and high food prices.
The report is on the food situation in Zimbabwe for October to December 2020 and the projections for January to March 2021.
“Currently, 2.61 million people (27% of the analysed population) in rural Zimbabwe are facing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above), while nearly 2.9 million people (29%) are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
“The food insecurity is primarily due to shocks and hazards experienced in the country such as drought, reduced livelihood opportunities due to restrictions linked to Covid-19, pests and diseases, and high food prices,” IPC said.
“In the absence of large-scale humanitarian food assistance programmes currently ongoing in the country, more households would likely be in a worse-off food security situation.”
The IPC said humanitarian efforts by the government and development partners have reached 6.7 million beneficiaries in the projected period, but there is need for more in order to reach the most vulnerable households.
“The government and development partners are reaching large numbers of food insecure households – 4.1 million beneficiaries in the current period and 6.7 million beneficiaries in the projected period.
“There is a genuine need for these efforts to continue to reach the most vulnerable households and to provide them with food, cash and livelihood assistance.
“The poor rainfall season experienced in most districts of Zimbabwe resulted in poor harvests, consequently resulting in low household food stocks from own production; a situation exacerbated by two previous consecutive poor performing agricultural seasons.
“Compounded by the economic impacts of Covid-19, incomes were reduced. For the majority of rural households, the most important income sources were casual labour, selling of livestock, and remittances.
“These were all negatively affected by Covid-19 restriction measures, resulting in household income reductions of more than 50%. This situation was exacerbated by sharp price increases and has forced many households to reduce expenditures on essential items and dispose of their assets.”
As part of its recommendations, the IPC said; “The government and development partners should consider broadening social protection and resilience building programmes in order to strengthen absorptive and adaptive capacities of at-risk communities through scaling up of programmes such as Harmonised Social Cash transfers and Productive Community Works targeting labour and non-labour constrained households.”