Food Coalition

Revised Humanitarian response Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe had already been facing widespread food insecurity prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis for February–June 2020 showed people across the entire country were food insecure, with 45 percent of the rural population (4.3 million people) and 2.4 million people living in urban areas in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse levels of acute food insecurity. The underlying causes of this are three successive years of poor agricultural performance, coupled with an economic collapse that led to hyperinflation. This is limiting the ability of farmers to use machinery and access seeds and fertilizer. According to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement’s (MLAWRR’s) Second Round Crop and Livestock Assessment (May 2020), the total cereal production is estimated to be 1.06 million tonnes against a national cereal requirement of 2.2 million tonnes for human and livestock consumption. Consequently, Zimbabwe has a cereal deficit of almost 1.2 million tonnes, which will have to be replenished through cereal imports as stocks are estimated to have been depleted. This will be a serious challenge for importers due to foreign exchange shortages and a national currency that has decreased in value by 80 percent since early-May 2020.

Zimbabwe recorded its first case of COVID-19 on 20 March 2020 and now has over 700 confirmed cases as of mid-July, including four deaths (all with co-morbidities). Of the ten provinces in Zimbabwe, five (Bulawayo, Harare, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West and Matabeleland North) have confirmed COVID-19 transmission. The Government has declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national disaster and has introduced several urgent and essential health-related containment measures, including a national lockdown and the closure of international borders, with the exception of essential services. At the early stages of the containment measures, informal markets were closed resulting in losses for smallholder farmers and traders. These have now been lifted as of mid-June, but as the country is highly dependent on imports, supply chains remain very fragile. Although challenging to differentiate between the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the effects of COVID-19, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that more than 60 percent of households, in both rural and urban contexts, have not been able to generate meaningful incomes due to market closure, loss of labour opportunities and declining remittances.

A particular vulnerable group are agro/pastoral communities residing in some of the low rainfall areas of Zimbabwe (far north, east and south). Rangeland quality during the wet season was classified as ‘fair to poor’ by the First Round Crop Assessment completed by MLAWRR and is expected to deteriorate from April to October 2020 with some districts having already run low on grazing land by June. The near real-time vegetation anomaly was indicated as below normal for June, prior to the onset of the dry season. Supplies of animal feed have been disrupted due to COVID-19 prevention and containment measures, feed companies’ inability to access raw materials and staff shortages. Livestock markets have also been disrupted by measures to prevent the spread of the virus, which has and will continue to prevent the sale of livestock products to local and regional markets. This will reduce livelihood opportunities for households that depend on such sales for their income.

Priority Areas of work: Global Humanitarian Response Plan
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 5. Gender Equality, 16. Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Level: Country
Country: Zimbabwe
Budget: USD 53 million

Action Sheet:  Zim_cb0272en.pdf

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