Currently, 25% of the rural population are estimated to be in Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phase 3 and 4) and face moderate to large food consumption gaps or are only marginally able to meet minimum food needs by depleting essential assets or employing crisis or emergency coping strategies. Another 26% are in Stress (IPC Phase 2).
Between October and December, the number of people in IPC Phase 3+ is expected to increase to 3.58 million (38%) with nine districts classified in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
The first half of the agricultural season (Oct-Dec 2018) was affected by El Niño, which resulted in a delayed start of the season; and the second half was characterised by prolonged dry spells. The Eastern and parts of Southern Zimbabwe were affected by Cyclone Idai. These climate shocks, exacerbated by the effects of the Fall Army Worm, resulted in significantly reduced crop harvest. The second round crop and livestock assessment reported a deficit of 760,000 MT indicating that most households will have reduced supply from own production. Livestock diseases contributed to two thirds of cattle deaths. Water availability and grazing conditions are generally fair but are expected to deteriorate as the season progresses. The situation is also a result of the prevailing macro-economic situation in Zimbabwe characterised by hyperinflation (98% in May 2019) leading to erosion of income and purchasing power.
Recommendations and next steps
- In light of the high prevalence of acute food insecurity, there is need for urgent assistance to reduce food consumption gaps and protect/save livelihoods for the 2.29 million people in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and above and the additional 1.3 million people facing Crisis or worse between October and December 2019.
- In response to increased vulnerability, the Government and its Development Partners should consider improving efficiency in the identification of beneficiaries. A standardised approach to enhance accountability should be implemented.
- Management of Food Aid: Government should take far-reaching and monitorable actions to reform the way Zimbabwe receives and manages food aid. Management of Food Aid should be in-line with the “Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness” particularly item 3(ii) – increasing alignment of aid with partner country’s priorities, systems and procedures and helping to strengthen their capacities.
- Crop Production: Results show evidence of households’ constraints in accessing agriculture inputs. During the current 2019/20 consumption year, more resources should be channelled towards Government Input Support (the Command Agriculture and Presidential Input Scheme Programmes), household economy strengthening and building productive community assets.
- Crop Production – Government to consider the importance and urgency of efforts to build resilience against climate variability and climate change amongst the rural populations of Zimbabwe. These efforts could include stepping up the promotion of climate-smart agriculture, water harvesting and irrigation development, particularly in the most drought-prone areas – Crop Pests: Considering the damage caused by the Fall Army worm, building capacity of extension agencies in providing the relevant and high quality information to farmers on Fall Armyworm is recommended. Government to ensure Research institutions have capacity to determine sustainable ways of managing the pest including efficacy of pesticides and indigenous control measures, most effective, lowest-risk, economical, accessible and easily used by smallholders (without sophisticated machinery).
- Livestock Production: Livestock drought mitigation strategies need to be prioritized in areas that suffered most from the drought and where livestock makes the most significant contribution to households’ livelihoods. The mitigation strategies could include (i) Provision of subsidised livestock feeds and animal drugs; and (ii) Facilitating access to relief grazing.
Income and Expenditure – Interventions that strengthen households’ economy and resilience are thus recommended to ensure households remain food and nutrition secure.
- Child Nutrition: In view of results showing high levels of stunting, Child Supplementary Feeding Programmes (CSFP) should be prioritised as a matter of urgency especially for districts with Global Acute Malnutrition above 5%. Livelihoods and food security interventions coupled with nutrition education programmes should be implemented alongside emergency response programmes to ensure consumption of diverse and micronutrient rich foods while simultaneously building community resilience to future shocks that compromise household food and nutrition security. There is need for a robust and real-time community based surveillance system to constantly monitor the tenuous nutritional situation especially as the season progresses towards the hunger or lean months of the year.
- Enhanced Food Access: It is recommended that Government consider duty free for the import of household’s food requirements as per Zimstat’s food basket.
- Shocks and Hazards – Government and development partners should consider broadening social protection and resilience-building programmes in order to strengthen absorptive and adaptive capacities of at-risk communities through scaling up of programmes such as Harmonised Social Cash transfers and Productive Community Works targeting both labour and non-labour constrained households.