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The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2011: Zimbabwe

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2011: Zimbabwe

Nov 2010

The recent stabilizing of the political situation in Zimbabwe, following post‑election violence in 2008, has allowed for modest gains in humanitarian activities.

Joint efforts between the Inclusive Government, formed in February 2009, and aid partners have resulted in improvements in food security, better delivery of social services and the prevention and containment of disease outbreaks.

Although there has been progress over the past two years, significant humanitarian needs remain. One in three children in Zimbabwe is chronically malnourished and nearly 12 000 die each year due to malnutrition-related illness. An estimated 1.7 million people will face severe food insecurity during the peak hunger period of January to March 2011.

In addition, there are numerous challenges related to outbreaks of cholera, which killed over 4 000 people in 2008–2009, lack of safe drinking water for one-third of the country, an estimated unemployment rate of 60 percent, and increases in maternal and child mortality.

The introduction of foreign currencies as legal tender has contained the unprecedented levels of inflation that Zimbabwe experienced in 2008 and facilitated economic growth of between 2 and 4 percent in 2010.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

The agriculture sector is the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy and provides a livelihood for the vast majority of its population. Since 2000, agricultural productivity and output have fallen significantly as a result of periodic droughts, economic and political constraints and diseases, particularly the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Following a significant increase in the main cereal harvest from 0.5 million tonnes in 2008 to 1.5 million tonnes in 2009, recorded production stagnated in 2010, largely due to a prolonged dry spell and an uneven distribution of rainfall. Massive emigration has kept the population steady for the past decade in spite of natural growth, which has maintained the annual cereal requirement at approximately 2 million tonnes. Zimbabwe has experienced an average annual cereal deficit of 700 000 tonnes over the past five years. Although the total land area currently cultivated in the country has increased by more than 400 000 hectares (28 percent) since 2000, agricultural productivity has decreased significantly over the same period. The near collapse of the livestock industry has made it difficult to deliver animal health services to the estimated 52 percent of rural Zimbabweans who own cattle.

The agriculture sector continues to face many challenges for the coming years. Inputs are costly and in insufficient supply, making them inaccessible to most communal farmers. The Government’s capacity for providing extension and training support is limited. There are also labour shortages in the smallholder agriculture sector as a result of emigration and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Priority needs in the sector include: access to agricultural inputs and extension services; improved productivity and diversification, coupled with improvements in market linkages; and the strengthening of coordination mechanisms and early warning systems.

Cluster response

The Zimbabwe CAP 2011 has adopted a cluster-based approach to provide the strategic focus and flexibility needed to identify adequate responses and build linkages with other activities in the country.

FAO aims to support increased food production and crop diversity through the provision of market-based assistance to vulnerable farmers in the form of inputs and extension services. Efforts will also be made to increase livestock productivity through the improvement of productive and marketing systems and the provision of animal health services.

FAO, as the lead agency of the agriculture sector, has positioned itself to assist national and international organizations and institutions working in Zimbabwe through the provision of a range of services relating to coordination and early warning systems that will include a comprehensive agriculture and food security monitoring system, the carrying out of national crop surveys and the implementation of small pilot projects throughout the country.