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Limited humanitarian assistance coverage maintains Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the south

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Zimbabwe
  • November 2016
Limited humanitarian assistance coverage maintains Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the south

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Key Messages
    • Despite the presence of humanitarian assistance in much of the south and marginal north, coverage is generally low. Between November and December, this assistance is expected to improve outcomes in some areas to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) due to the impacts of last season’s El Niño-induced drought and macro-economic challenges. The food security situation is expected to worsen during the peak lean season period (Jan-Mar 2017) and the worst affected areas will experience Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. Traditional cereal-surplus producing areas in the Mashonaland Provinces will continue to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). 

    • Average maize grain and maize meal prices remain relatively stable across most markets but are still the highest in the region. Since October, maize meal prices remain comparable to the five-year average, however maize grain prices are 10 percent above the five-year average for FEWS NET sentinel markets.  

    • Most parts of the country received rains in November, though the bulk remain in the below normal category. In parts of the Mashonaland and Manicaland, provinces, the rains were significant enough and farmers have started planting. 

    Current Situation

    Macroeconomic Conditions

    • After increased campaigns in November, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) finally released bond notes into the economy on 28 November. These are intended to promote exports and help ease prevailing cash shortages. The effects and impacts of the notes will become clearer in the coming weeks.
    • Prevailing liquidity and cash shortages have seen the emergence of multiple-pricing models in some sections of the economy. For example payments through bank cards or bank transfers are attracting some premium charges above cash transaction rates. Some businesses are now offering discounts for cash payments. Reports are also that US dollars are now being sold on the black market as demand for the hard currency increases with continuing bank withdrawal limits.
    • There have been recent incidences and reports of fuel shortages in the market. Government has refuted these reports saying there are enough stocks in the country and fuel importers remain on the RBZ priority list for foreign currency.

    Seasonal progress

    • Most parts of the country received rains during November, though most areas remain in the below normal category as of 23 November. For most areas the rains have come earlier compared to last season. Land preparation and planting are the main activities especially in parts of Mashonaland and Manicaland Provinces. Parts of the Matebelelands, Masvingo and Midlands Provinces are still to receive significant rains for planting.
    • The recent rains are yet to improve water and pasture conditions in the worst affected south. Average national dam levels as of 10 November stood at 38.8 percent, down from 41.9 percent as of 20 October, with the situation most critical in the south. Cities including Bulawayo and Masvingo have recently introduced more stringent water rationing measures due to critically low reservoir levels.

    Maize availability

    • In September, an additional 82,867 MT of maize was formally imported. Between April and September 2016 a total of 425,282 MT of maize has been imported. The country still faces a significant uncovered deficit.
    • Zambia has reconfirmed its maize export ban, with the exception of limited exports for WFP regional procurement for humanitarian assistance purposes. In the 2017 national budget presentation on 11 November, the Zambian Government also proposed a 10 percent tax on maize exports starting January 2017.
    • Maize grain stocks in most markets, even in the north, continue to dwindle as local source areas are depleted. Maize meal purchases are increasingly becoming key sources of cereal in some areas that typically would rely on grain well into the peak lean season.

    Trade and Market Functioning

    • Average October maize grain prices ($0.35/kg) for FEWS NET sentinel markets continue to be stable. However the price is 10 percent above the five-year average ($0.39/kg). Maize meal prices are stable relative to last month and the five-year average.

    The assumptions used to develop the most likely scenario for the October 2016 to May 2017 Outlook period are still valid. 


    Economic and liquidity challenges, poor livelihoods, and below-average household incomes are expected to prevail during the Outlook period. Between November and March, even though casual labor opportunities are expected to improve in line with seasonal forecast for normal to above normal rains, poor disposal incomes for middle and better off households will reduce labor opportunities for poor households. Due to low coverage of humanitarian assistance in most areas, a significant proportion of the populations will rely on markets where cereal (maize and maize meal) prices are stable but generally high. Poor livelihood options among poor households will result in access challenges on the markets. Because of significant survival and livelihoods protection deficits in most areas in the south, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes are expected from November through December. With the peak lean season period from January to March 2017, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected in the worst affected areas. In areas receiving humanitarian assistance, Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) area outcomes will be expected.

    In parts of the north, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected from November through March. Prospects of normal to above normal rains will improve agricultural and non-agricultural labor opportunities. Green harvests are expected to be normal starting around February to March which will enhance food access and diversity. Still, poor households will continue to face significant livelihoods protection deficits even though they may be able to meet their minimal food requirements. No significant humanitarian assistance is expected in these typically cereal-surplus areas.   

    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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