Report: Families resort to wild fruits, begging, poaching for survival

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By Staff Reporter

Most poor households in Zimbabwe have adopted various coping strategies such as eating wild fruit, begging, poaching wild animals in order to survive through current drought and economic hardship.

The latest report on Zimbabwe Food Security Outlook for June 2019 to January 2020, prepared by the US-based Famine Early Warning Systems (Fews Net), paints a depressing analysis of how most families across the country have adopted various strategies in order to survive including withdrawing children from school and selling assets.

Zimbabwe experienced a severe drought during the 2018/2019 rainy season resulting in low crop harvests.

The situation has been compounded by a deteriorating economic situation, which has seen the increase of basic commodities; severe fuel, water and electricity shortages.

According to Fews Net most households in rural communities have exhausted their produced crops, compared to previous years when they traditionally exhaust their stocks in October; forcing most families to find alternative coping methods during this lean period.

“Consumption based coping strategies such as reducing portion sizes and number of meals is expected to continue,” the organisation says.

Fews Net adds; “Due to the then exhausted own-produced stocks, poor incomes and high food prices, an increasing proportion of households will engage in crisis and/or emergency coping to meet their food needs. Activities such as begging for food, withdrawing children from school, purchasing on credit and above normal livestock and asset sales are likely to occur.”

Some households would be forced to dispose valuable assets such as livestock to purchase food.

“Market purchases will be limited due to poor incomes and high food prices. Barter trade for food is likely to occur throughout the scenario period as the cash crisis continues and household incomes remain poor. Food consumption and livelihoods will deteriorate from the October to January period,” the outlook predicts.

Communities in Binga and Kariba were reported to be engaging in illegal activities such as poaching in game parks and fishing along the Zambezi River to access food and income.

“In addition, many households are increasing their engagement in the selling of firewood and other small self-employment activities, although incomes from these sources are below average. The availability of wild products (e.g. fruits, grass etc…) for consumption or selling is below normal levels due to poor rains received last season.

“Many poor households are employing consumption based coping strategies including reducing the number of meals consumed a day, reducing portion sizes, and engaging in preferential feeding of children before adults. In addition, in areas with little to no harvest households are atypically selling livestock, purchasing food on credit or borrowing money to buy food.” Fews Net added.