By Alois Vinga
ZIMBABWE is among four Southern African countries worst affected by hunger.
This was revealed Monday by the World Food Programme (WFP) which went on to say the current Covid-19 crisis further threatened to plunge the country deeper into the abyss.
In a study entitled “2020 edition of The Global Report on Food Crises”, WFP said, “About 80 % of the people in crisis situations across Southern Africa are in four countries.”
These are Democratic Republic of Congo with 16 million people, Zimbabwe with four million, Malawi 3.3 million and Zambia where 2,3 million face hunger.
The global food organ said Zimbabwe was still suffering the effects of the worst hunger crisis in a decade after last experiencing normal rainfall in one of the last five growing seasons.
The study observes that extreme poverty has risen from 29 % in 2018 to 34 % in 2019, which equates to 5.7 million people.
It is also noted that after flooding and landslides associated with Cyclone Idai caused severe damages to crops and agriculture infrastructure in March last year, the country then experienced its worst drought in decades, with temperatures hitting 50 degrees Celsius in some areas.
“Countries with large public debt will struggle to mobilize the resources to respond to the crisis, while others, most strikingly Zimbabwe, will have problems replenishing low currency reserves,” warned WFP chief economist Arif Husain.
“We must make sure that tens of millions of people already on the verge of starvation do not succumb to this virus or to its economic consequences in terms of loss of jobs and incomes.”
The findings come at a time when the financial status of most Zimbabweans has deteriorated due to the current Covid-19 induced lockdown.
The period has seen supply chains disrupted and prices of basic commodities spiralling beyond the reach of many.
Companies like Simbisa Brands have since indicated plans to cut jobs and wages saying there has not been any good business recorded since the lockdown.
The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) has reported that in the post lockdown era, 75 % of informal jobs and 25 % formal jobs will be cut off amid disruptions on other value chains which will not spare rural economies and lead to the increase of food insecure people.