By Robert Tapfumaneyi
HALF of Zimbabwe’s population in 2020 faced extreme poverty due to the combined effects caused by the deadly global Covid-19 pandemic, and poor agriculture harvests.
This is part of the findings from the 2020 Rapid Poverty Income Consumption and Expenditure Survey (PICES) telephonic survey conducted by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT).
The survey was carried in partnership with the World Bank and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“ZIMSTAT, together with the World Bank and UNICEF, designed a high-frequency telephone survey of households to measure the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 on households in Zimbabwe,” said ZIMSTAT director-general Taguma Mahonde.
Also commenting on the survey World Bank country manager Mukami Kariuki said from the findings, the Covid-19 virus continued to cause much suffering in local communities.
“The pandemic’s socio-economic effects continue to cause suffering in communities. From this round, the findings reveal that while employment has increased from 51% in July 2020 to 57% in early 2021, the recovery has only been partial as employment level has not reached the pre-pandemic level thereby contributing to increasing poverty in the country.”
According to the survey, 61% of the national population faced food insecurity while 71% of the rural population had severe or moderate food insecurity.
However, on a positive note, 61% of agricultural households benefited from the government-led “Pfumvudza/Intwasa” free inputs programme.
The pandemic continued to be a challenge for children attending school as the virus kept them out of class.
“Children have continued to bear the brunt of the pandemic. As results of this round of the survey show, only 40% of children were engaged in some form of remote learning, while access to essential health interventions has been reduced,” said UNICEF country representative Tajudeen Oyewale.
“Social protection coverage has also been impacted, and I call upon all stakeholders to come together to support the country’s protection programmes.”
The survey is critical in getting data used by the government in informing national policy for social welfare programmes, poverty mapping, and studying income disparities among socioeconomic groups.