Food Security Outlook Update

Households in southern areas continue to rely on market purchases during the harvest

May 2015
2015-Q2-2-1-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

  • Most households in the northern parts of the country are engaged in harvesting and are currently facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes, and these outcomes are not expected to change through September. However, in the southern parts of the country, households are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during the harvest period as they continue relying on market purchases for cereals. In July, household food insecurity is expected to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

  • The drought in most of the southern parts of the country has significantly reduced agriculture related causal labor and activities, such as harvesting. These activities normally provide significant levels of incomes during this period, but are not expected because of the extent of complete crop loss due to dryness this season. Household incomes are therefore expected to be significantly reduced, resulting in diminished household access to food from June to August.

  • Maize grain prices are increasing in areas in the southern region during a period when they normally decrease. The national average for maize grain is currently 15 percent above last year’s average. Current poor harvests have limited the amount of carryover cereals stocks that households usually offloaded onto markets as the new harvests arrive. This is limiting the availability of lower priced maize for poor households in deficit areas. 

Current Situation

  • Most households in the southern parts of the country are relying exclusively on market purchases due to drought conditions which affected areas including Matebeleland North and South, most parts of Masvingo, Midlands, and selected districts in Manicaland Province (Figure 1). Most very poor and poor households in these areas currently experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity outcomes. The households’ food security situation is likely to continue to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes between July and September.
  • Monthly cereal prices continue increasing due to reduced cereal supplies in deficit areas. The cheaper option of typical farmer-to-farmer maize grain sales are not available for most households this season. Households in surplus areas who normally sell their maize grain are withholding their stocks, either because they do not have surplus to sell or would like to sell when prices reach peak high levels.
  • Private traders are currently importing maize grain from countries including Mozambique and Zambia, and this is expected to continue during the outlook period.
  • Government plans to import the required maize from Zambia have been stifled since Zambia is unlikely to sell its cereal this year due to slightly below-average harvests. South Africa’s maize grain production significantly decreased by approximately 33 percent in comparison to last year’s bumper harvest. However, imports of South African maize grain is not an option since Zimbabwe has policy restrictions on GMO maize.
  • The lean season is expected to start earlier than usual in the south due to the current poor harvest and the lack of livelihood options for poor and very poor households.
  • Agriculture casual labor will remain limited, particularly in the southern areas, because harvesting activities are limited due to drought conditions and total crop failure. This is affecting poor household income levels that households typically use towards cereal purchases in local markets later in the consumption period.
  • Currently very poor and poor households are coping through earlier than normal small livestock sales in order to raise incomes for cereal purchases. Other coping mechanisms include engagement in gold panning and other small scale mining activities; petty trading is also common across the age groups and among both males and females. Vegetable production & sales activities are however limited due to water problems which are affecting most communities earlier than usual due to a below normal rainfall season.
  • Cattle movements have been reported from worst affected areas to better pasture areas. Some of the very poor and poor households continue to rely on remittances mainly from South Africa. However, remittances continue to be affected by a weakening South African Rand compared to the United States Dollar. Recent xenophobic activities in South Africa have also affected labor opportunities in that country.
UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS

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

PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2014
  • Most very poor households in the northern parts of the country will likely have normal supplies of cereal from own production through September and will likely experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes. However, in the areas of concern in Beitbridge South Western Lowveld Communal (BSWLC), including Matebeleland North and South, and Masvingo Mwenezi Middleveld Communal (MMMC), which includes parts of Masvingo, Midlands and Manicaland, very poor household food security outcomes will deteriorate from the current Stressed( IPC Phase 2) to Crisis(IPC Phase 3) from July through September.
  • Markets in the southern parts of the country are likely to be undersupplied as the typical cereal trade flows from northern surplus to deficit areas will not behave normally this year due to reduced harvests in the surplus areas. As more households in the north increase their reliance on market purchases later in the consumption period, prices are likely to increase atypically from July to September.
  • Livestock conditions are expected to continue to be good until August, when the current pasture and water sources are expected to start deteriorating. Poor livestock conditions will result in falling prices on most markets. This will happen at a time maize grain prices are projected to be on the increase, meaning the livestock to grain terms of trade are likely to be increasingly unfavorable for very poor and poor households disposing of livestock to access cereals. The poor condition of livestock will also affect land preparations for the next cropping season.

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.
Learn more About Us.

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)
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