By Alois Vinga
ZIMBABWE’s severe food insecurity levels have risen to 27% against the backdrop of the Covid-19 induced economic hardships, the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstats) has said.
This is contained in the agency’s follow-up survey to the Poverty, Income, Consumption and Expenditure Surveys (PICES) of 2017 to 2019 released last December.
“Further analysis of the data from Round 1 using the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) shows that the proportion of households facing severe food insecurity has risen over the past years. It was 27% in July 2020, up from 7% in April-May 2019,” the report said.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) says food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
“Likewise, the proportion of households facing moderate insecurity increased from 42 to 72 % during this period. Rural households were more food insecure than urban households for both food security measures,” the report added.
Of the households that needed medical treatment, a slightly higher fraction was able to access treatment at 86% in August-September 2020 against 79% in the first survey in July 2020.
It was noted that lack of money was the main reason for failing to access medical treatment and that 91% of the households were unable to access treatment.
In urban areas, the proportion that received Covid-19 cash transfers from the government rose from 3 to 10% in the first and second surveys respectively. Only 1% of rural households received the cash transfers.
The proportion of households that received food aid dropped to 2% in the second round from 15%.
This was attributed to a large reduction in the share of rural households receiving food aid which fell from 23 to 3% and only 1% of urban households received food aid in both survey rounds.
The latest survey builds on the PICES of 2017 and 2019 and used a sample of 1 747 households in Round 1 and 1 639 households in Round 2 from all the country’s 10 provinces.
The World Bank and UNICEF also took part in carrying out the surveys.
The methodology was through a high-frequency telephone survey to measure the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 in households.