By Robert Tapfumaneyi
AT least half of Zimbabwe’s population is facing the prospects of starvation and will need food aid after it emerged that rural food insecurity in the country is projected to reach 59% during the peak hunger period between January to March 2020.
This is contained in the latest Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVac) report recently released. Figures for the month of June show that an estimated 21% of Zimbabweans had problems fending for themselves.
“This food insecurity prevalence translates to about 5, 5 million rural people. The cereal requirements at peak will be 818,323 metric tonnes at an estimated cost of US$217 659 752,” ZimVac said.
“Matabeleland North (68%), Masvingo (64%) and Midlands (63%) provinces are projected to have the highest proportions of food insecure households at peak hunger period.
“Matabeleland South province is projected to have the least proportion of food insecure households (49%),” the report said.
“Two districts have proportions of food insecurity above 80% (Binga and Chivi), nine have proportions over 70%, 36 between 50%-70% and 13 have less than 50% of their populations having inadequate means to meet their food needs without resorting to severe livelihoods and consumption coping strategies.”
The report said there is need for urgent food distribution or cash based transfers (to promote the local economy where feasible) to food insecure households in order to avoid a worsening situation.
“Considering that most shocks which affected households were agro-based, there is need for multi stakeholder efforts are necessary to address challenges related to weather and climate, pests and food and nutrition security,” ZimVac said.
“There is need to scale up community based resilience building programs to enable communities to cope with future shocks and hazards, particular focus should be put on diversifying livelihoods including off-farm income generating activities.”
The ZimVac livelihoods assessment report comes at a time when the recently released 2018 Auditor General’s report says that Labour and Social Services Ministry failed to disburse more than $9 million meant to cushion vulnerable groups money which has shockingly been returned to treasury.
Auditor General Mildred Chiri said the move further worsened the plight of beneficiaries and children may be exposed to child labour and early child marriages.
“The Ministry did not disburse the Harmonised Social Cash Transfer (HSCT), which is a transfer of cash entitlements to vulnerable households in order to reduce household poverty, protects and enhance the livelihood of all vulnerable children so that they refrain from risky coping strategies such as child labour and early child marriages,” Chiri indicated.
“The $9 559 722 earmarked for the HSCT programme was recalled by the Treasury on December 31, 2018 after realising that no disbursements were made thus depriving the beneficiaries of a better standard of life.”