According to the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan, a total of 6 million people were in urgent need of food assistance across Zimbabwe both in rural and urban areas. In addition, 1.5 million small holder farmers were in need of season- sensitive emergency crop and livestock input assistance.
The increased rural and urban caseload due to COVID-19 of 200,000 is bringing the total target to 4.6 million people, according to the HRP COVID-19 Addendum.
COVID-19 containment measures, in particular lockdowns, have severe socio-economic consequences. It is expected that the drastic loss of livelihoods will trigger a sharp increase in food insecurity across the country. WFP internal analysis forecasted that food insecure people would rise to 3.3 million from 2.2 million in urban areas, and to 5.3 million from 3.7 million in rural areas from October to December 2020.
According to the WFP September food security update, prices of basic food commodities in Zimbabwean dollars (ZWL) terms continued their upward trend, but it has stabilized to around 10 per cent monthly increase in comparison to over 30 per cent reported before June 2020. The relative stable price trends in ZWL terms is in line with stabilized foreign exchange rates. The annual inflation declined for a third consecutive month: from 838 per cent in July to 761 per cent in August and was pegged at 659 in September 2020. This downward trend is also reflected in food inflation which decreased from 977 per cent in July to 761 per cent in August and pegged at 724 per cent in September 2020.
The IPC analysis for the rural areas was conducted from 12 – 16 October. The indication is a reduction in the numbers of acutely food-insecure people facing crisis or worse (IPC Phases 3 or above) conditions during October to December 2020 and January to March 2021, when compared to the previous analysis. The improvement is highly related to currently on-going and planned large-scale humanitarian food assistance. The food insecurity is primarily due to shocks and hazards experienced in the country such as drought, reduced livelihood opportunities due to restrictions linked to COVID-19, pests and diseases, and high food prices.
The Ministry of Agriculture stated that an estimated 44,399 hectares has been planted for winter wheat with expected yield 100,000 metric tons. Most of the wheat crop is reported to be between the tiller formation and booting stages. The wheat condition is fair to good across all provinces.
Livestock condition across most areas in the country is ranging from fair to poor due to shortage of grazing and water. Over 350,000 head of cattle in Masvingo province are affected. Figures from other areas are being compiled. There is need assist farmers with supplementary feeds to save their animals from drought related deaths .
According to the Southern Africa Climate Outlook Forum, there are higher chances for normal to above normal rainfall during the October - December 2020 period and normal to above normal rainfall during January to March 2021 .
National seed availability estimates for the coming 2020-21 agricultural season indicate approximately 40,000 metric tons of maize seed will be available on the seed market. This is adequate to cover the national production target of 1,500,000 hectares under maize. Seed deficits are estimated for soya beans, sugar beans, pearl millet and finger millet. The concern is seed availability at household level especially farmers’ capacity to access seeds from the market given high prices and eroded incomes. The country has suffered two consecutive poor seasons, household seed stocks are either depleted or very low.
Another area of concern is availability of fertilizer given the forecast of normal to above rains. This is also heightened by the shortage of foreign currency.
In September, the FSL Cluster partners reported providing in-kind food assistance, vouchers or cash (USD) to 1,060,000 people in both rural and urban zones. Further, 224,000 people received agricultural and livelihood support. In October, partners reported providing in-kind food assistance, vouchers or cash (USD) to 1,400,000 people in both rural and urban zones, with further 293,000 people receiving agricultural and livelihood support.
In September, WFP’s Rural Lean Season Assistance (LSA) programme was scaled up to over 1 million people, while in urban areas WFP scaled up its programme to target 292,000 people across 22 domains. In October, the LSA caseload was scaled up to 1,064,538 while in urban areas, WFP caseload reached 326,000.
The Government has started distributing inputs through the Presidential Input programme targeting 1.8 million vulnerable small holder farmers. The programme is using the Pfumvudza (conservation agriculture) approach as a mechanism for climate prooﬁng agricultural production.
According to the Financial Tracking Service (FTS) (as of 20 November 2020), only $141 million of the $507 million (28 per cent) total requested budget for the revised FSL Cluster HRP 2020 was received.