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Existing assistance is improving food security but future programming remains underfunded

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Zimbabwe
  • November 2013
Existing assistance is improving food security but future programming remains underfunded

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through March 2014
  • Key Messages
    • The scaling up of humanitarian assistance through the Seasonal Targeted Assistance (STA) has improved food security in nineteen food insecure districts across the country, however some households in southern districts are experiencing livelihood protection deficits and are Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) in the presence of food assistance. Households in the northern areas are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes, with the exception of districts like Mbire and Rushinga where households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) conditions in the presence of food assistance.

    • For households that are not receiving humanitarian assistance, market purchases are the main source of their cereals. Cereal remains available in most markets including the southern and western areas; however price increases continue to prevail, particularly in the southern cereal deficit areas.

    • The country has received significant rainfall with most northern and southern areas receiving 20-50 mm since the beginning of October. Planting has started in some areas and most households are using seed and fertilizers received through the government input support scheme as well as the FAO crop input and livestock support program.

    Current Situation
    • Rural poor and very poor STA beneficiaries are currently meeting their food needs. In addition to this assistance, households are also receiving government cash transfers and grain through participation in the Grain Loan Scheme.
    • Currently the STA program remains significantly underfunded and the coverage is likely to remain limited and will not be able to cover all of the food requirements of participating households. Most households in the north  and south are facing  Minimal ( IPC Phase 1!) as a result  of  assistance,  while selected districts in southern and western including Gwanda, Tsholotsho, Bulilima, Mberengwa, Chivi, Mwenezi, Bikita and Chiredzi as well as Mbire,  and Rushinga in the north are still facing Stressed( IPC Phase 2!) outcomes in the presence of food assistance.
    • Maize grain is mostly available in northern areas, while maize meal is available in most local markets across the country; prices for both commodities remain higher than the same time last year. In some parts of the south (i.e. Matebeleland South) maize prices are 8-18 percent above the national average and the same percentage higher than they were during the same time last year.
    • The rainy season has started and most districts have received cumulative rainfall that is higher than levels during the same period last year (Figure 3). Areas that have recorded the highest accumulated rainfall (>50 mm) include Chimanimani, Mutare, Mt Darwin, Marondera and Gweru districts. Southern areas like Gwanda, Beitbridge, Tsholotsho and Bulilima districts have also received significant rains and this will improve pasture conditions and water availability for livestock.
    • Crop cultivation has started in some districts where most households are using seeds distributed through the government input support scheme and seeds from last season. Additionally FAO is supporting about 47,800 households with both crop inputs and livestock support (valued at $160 per household). This program mainly targets better-off households that can contribute 50 percent of this value.
    • The planting activities associated with the normal start of the cropping season are providing casual labor opportunities across the country. Payment for cropping is mostly in cash and in-kind.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not changed the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of October 2013 to March 2014. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the October 2013 Food Security Outlook.  

    Projected Outlook Through March 2014
    • The Food Security situation is likely to be stable between November and December due to the impact of the ongoing STA as well as other forms of assistance. The ongoing input support schemes will also likely support livelihood protection activities for both livestock and crop production. However if the funding situation for food assistance does not improve, the coverage of the STA program will likely be limited and as a result very poor and poor households in southern and western areas will continue facing Stressed ( IPC Phase 2!) food insecurity outcomes. Northern districts are likely to maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1 and IPC Phase 1!) outcomes.
    • The January to March period includes the peak of the lean season (Jan-Feb) when the number of people vulnerable to food insecurity will be at its highest. During this period the start of the green harvest in February/March will slightly improve food availability among poor households, however survival food and livelihood protection deficits are likely among some very poor households, particularly in the areas of concern such as the Beitbridge South Western Lowveld Communal and the Western Kalahari Sandveld Communal. Most areas in the northern parts of the country will maintain Minimal ( IPC Phase 1 and IPC Phase 1!) food insecurity outcomes and elsewhere in the southern and  western areas particularly in districts like Tshotosho, Gwanda, Mberengwa, Bulilima, Chivi, Mwenezi, Bikita, Zaka. 

    Figure 1

    Figure 3. Accumulated rainfall between Oct. 1 and Nov. 20, 2013.

    Source: Zimbabwe Meteorological Services Department

    Figure 2


    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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