Panafrican News Agency

UN report rates Zimbabwe among top global food crises

Harare, Zimbabwe (PANA) - A major deterioration in food insecurity is expected in Zimbabwe as a result of persisting economic difficulties, eroded household resilience, rainfall deficits and low crop harvests, according to the new 2020 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC 2020).

The GRFC 2020 is the product of numerous members of the international humanitarian and development community to share data, analysis and global food security expertise. Those involved are the European Union, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Children's Fund, USAID and World Food Programme (WFP).

“In 2019, Zimbabwe experienced its worst drought in decades, which, in tandem with the impacts of Cyclone Idai and a severe economic crisis that sent food prices spiraling created the country's worst acute food insecurity crisis in 10 years,” the GRFC 2020 report said.

According to the report, the persisting poor macroeconomic environment, marked by hyperinflation, continues to drive the acute food insecurity situation in Zimbabwe.

Extreme poverty was estimated to have risen to 34 percent in 2019 from 29 percent  the previous year, leaving 5.7 million Zimbabweans in extreme poverty.

Last week, Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency revealed that the total consumption poverty line for an average of five persons rose 21.3 percent to ZWL(Zimbabwe dollars)6,420.87 (US$256.83) last month from a comparative of ZWL5,292.63 (US$211.71) in February.

The GRFC 2020 report anticipates a worsening food insecurity situation in 2020 with an estimated 4.3 million rural Zimbabweans, including children, in need of urgent action.

“While casual labour remained the main income for 30 percent of rural families, those relying on food crop sales reduced from 22 percent in 2018 to 8 percent in 2019. Cash shortages remained the most influential stressors experienced by households, followed by increases in cereal prices and drought, particularly in the provinces of Manicaland and Midlands,” the report said.

As such, apart from environmental factors, the worsening economic situation including hyperinflation, shortage of currency, fuel and prolonged power shortages; widespread poverty; high levels of HIV/AIDS; and low agricultural output continue to drive the crisis.

“Millions of Zimbabweans are already struggling to put food on the table, having faced prolonged drought and economic hardship for some time,” said WFP Country Director and Representative Eddie Rowe, in a statement about the GRFC 2020 report.

“It is imperative that we unite, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe and provide urgent food assistance safely to prevent an already vulnerable population from slipping deeper into this hunger crisis.”

Zimbabwe is now one of 10 countries where fewer than 20 percent of children between 6 and 23 months received a minimally adequate diet further compromising their lifelong quality of life, according to the  report.

“Measures to curb the further spread of COVID-19 have the potential to impact negatively on the food system in Zimbabwe, such as through restricted access to markets by both farmers and consumers, and a glut of perishable nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables. Deliberate measures are needed to prevent and mitigate against these,” FAO Representative Jocelyn Brown Hall said.

-0- PANA TZ/AR 28Apr2020