Food Security Outlook Update

Food insecurity expected to worsen in the southern provinces due to limited livelihood options

August 2015
2015-Q3-1-1-ZW-en

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Households in most southern provinces are currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through September. These outcomes are expected to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from October through December as cereal demand and prices increase. In most northern districts, the majority of households are experiencing Minimum (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. A few areas will transition to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes as households begin to rely more on cereal purchases between September and December.

  • In southern provinces some households are selling livestock earlier than normal in order to be able to purchase mainly maize meal, and people are seeking more work in petty trading and informal gold panning/mining. Maize meal availability and prices may be affected by the recent government ban on lower priced maize meal imports.   

  • For the consumption year, safety-net interventions by the government and partners are expected to be limited.  Lean season humanitarian assistance is also expected to be lower than normal due to a challenging funding situation. Partners are still in consultations with donors about program start dates, locations, and beneficiary targeting.  

CURRENT SITUATION

  • The 2015 ZIMVAC rural livelihoods assessment estimates that approximately 462,000 people or 5 percent of the rural population is currently food insecure through September.  This figure is expected to double to 924,000 people or 10 percent of the rural population between October and December, before peaking at 1.5 million people or 16 percent of the rural population between January and March 2016.
  • Worsening economic conditions are likely to push more rural and urban households to experience food access challenges. Based on poor agricultural performance in the 2014/15 season, the government made a downward revision (1.5 percent from 3.2 percent) to the GDP forecast for 2015. The poor economic environment is evidenced by how much companies, organizations, and the government are struggling to pay and retain employees. As a result of this situation, urban household income levels will be directly impacted, as well as rural households that migrate to urban centers for employment or rely on remittances.  
  • Following a very poor cropping season, cereal prices have started increasing much earlier than normal and have been atypically high in both cereal-surplus and cereal-deficit regions of the country. Between June and July, maize prices ($0.46/kg) at Mbare Market in Harare increased by 28 percent, and prices in July were 59 percent higher than in July 2014 ($0.29/kg). Maize prices on most markets in the cereal deficit south are higher because of the undersupply of maize grain. As a result, local and imported maize meal is the main cereal available for purchase. Prices of the imported maize meal are slightly cheaper and more stable than maize grain prices in deficit areas in the south. The government banned maize meal imports in July. The impact of this ban on maize grain availability and prices, especially in the south, are still yet to be realized.
  • Livelihood opportunities (both agriculture-related and non-agricultural) are limited, especially in the south. Currently, households are selling livestock much earlier than normal. Collectively, some 57 percent of the cattle in Matebeleland South are expected to be negatively impacted on by pasture and water shortages, and by the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). So far, 70,000 cattle are confirmed to be infected with FMD. Other livelihood activities across the country include engagement in gold panning and other small-scale mining activities, petty trading, and remittances from mainly South Africa. Remittance levels continue to be affected by a weakening South African Rand against the United States Dollar. The value of the South African Rand hit an all-time low of R14 to US$1 on August 24, 2015. Vegetable production and sales are limited in most communities due to water shortages following a below-average rainfall season. 

UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS

The assumptions used to develop the most likely scenario for the July to December Outlook period are still valid. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the Zimbabwe July to December 2015 Food Security Outlook

PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH DECEMBER 2015

  • August – September: The majority of households in the northern provinces will experience Minimum (IPC Phase 1) acute food security outcomes as they continue to consume own produced food stocks and carryover stocks from the 2013/14 season. In the southern half of the country, most households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes. Both agriculture-based and non-agricultural livelihood options are expected to be limited, impacting food access among poor households, especially in the south.  
  • October- December: Whereas the northern areas will predominantly remain under Minimum (Phase 1) outcomes, with a few areas in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis, the majority of districts in the south will experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes. Safety-net and humanitarian intervention coverage is expected to be lower than normal due to the constrained funding situation. Worsening macro-economic conditions will likely result in increased numbers of households facing challenges in accessing food. Increasing demand for cereal purchases during this period is expected to be met through imports. However both maize and maize meal prices are projected to be atypically high. An El Niño event and below-average rainfall are forecasted for the southern region. This is expected to worsen livelihood options, including casual labor availability, vegetable production, and livestock sales, potentially forcing households to engage in extreme coping strategies, including asset stripping.  

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

Link to United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Link to the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) FEWS NET Data PortalLink to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Link to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth ObservatoryLink to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service, Climage Prediction CenterLink to the Climate Hazards Center - UC Santa BarbaraLink to KimetricaLink to Chemonics