In Gwanda, the report shows that almost half of households indicated a day without food in the recent past. Only 17% of families reported eating three meals a day, meaning that 83% of households were, weeks before the onset of the official "hungry season in October", already making food compromises daily.
Grazing is critical, and people are travelling further to find water. This has been one of the hottest Octobers on record. Several families reported that baboons were killing and eating young goats and chickens, as the hunger now affects all living creatures in this area. Several families had no livestock left at all, not even one chicken.
Of concern by the end of October, is that supplementary feeding has not yet started, nor has the distribution of seed, yet the first rains have arrived. If people are to avoid yet another season of crop failure, there is an urgent need for free agricultural inputs to roll out now.
This hunger – already so extreme ahead of the recognized "peak hunger season" that officially lasts from October to February – is taking place at a time when Bulawayo, traditionally the source of employment and resources for Matabeleland, has seen a cataclysmic loss of jobs in industry in the last two years. This means that part of the greater support system for rural Matabeleland is highly compromised. The report traces the recent economic history of the region, and efforts to regenerate industry.
As deportations from South Africa gain momentum, the 17% of rural families that receive monthly remittances stand to lose this little extra means of support. All families with members in the Diaspora will have extra mouths to feed during the hungriest months of the year. Deportees to Zimbabwe have little likelihood of finding formal, productive employment and will merely exacerbate the plight of struggling households.
In addition to recommending urgent provision of both food and seeds, the SPT made the following recommendations:
1. Food handouts are not a permanent solution; there is a need to urgently address matters of economic development.
2. It is imperative for the SADC facilitation to proceed with greater urgency in order to facilitate a more constructive dialogue with donor countries over more substantive development assistance.
3. Civil society in Zimbabwe needs to include the social and economic rights of all Zimbabweans.
4. The recommendations made to Cabinet to promote the recovery of industries in Bulawayo need to implemented speedily in order to regenerate some of the 20,000 jobs lost there in the last two years.
5. The Government of South Africa should reconsider its policy of renewed deportations of Zimbabweans.Post published in: News