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The bulk of typical cereal-deficit areas across the country continue to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes. These outcomes are mainly due to depleted own-produced food stocks, high food prices, and constrained livelihoods. The green harvest in the typical cereal-deficit areas is expected to be below normal, marginally improving consumption for poor households during these months. Poor households in only a few areas in the north and other surplus production areas are meeting their basic food needs, but are unable to meet their basic livelihood needs, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. These area outcomes are expected to persist until the start of the 2019 harvest, which is likely to be delayed to April/June instead of March in typical cereal-deficit areas.
Petrol and diesel prices more than doubled in January. Shortages of most basic food commodities like cooking oil, sugar, wheat flour, and bread that began in October 2018 are expected to continue and the higher fuel prices are expected to further push up prices for basic food and non-food items. Transport fares and costs also increased by more than double this month, and are expected to adversely affect the general population and businesses. Maize grain and meal prices have also gone up as traders, millers, and retailers factor in increased transport costs.
The continued macroeconomic challenges have eroded rural and urban livelihoods to the point that an increasing number of poor households will continue to face food and livelihood deficits from January to April, as well as some middle and better-off households. Both casual labor opportunities and labor rates are very low. Water and pasture availability for livestock remain poor and livestock conditions continue to deteriorate in typical arid areas. Across most provinces the prevalance of livestock diseases is high and livestock deaths are affecting livelihoods in some areas.
Following a delayed start to the 2018-19 rainfall season, rainfall is still below normal across most of the country for this time of the year. Parts of Mashonaland Provinces in the north, parts of Manicaland Province to the east, northern parts of Midlands, and extreme southern areas have recorded normal rainfall amounts. The late start of the season, erratic rain, and low rainfall amounts are likely to result in lower than normal cropped areas this season, poor seed germination, and water stress for crops — all factors that would indicate a likelihood of below-average production in several parts of the country.
This Key Message Update provides a broad summary of FEWS NET's current and projected analysis of likely acute food insecurity outcomes in this geography. Learn more about our work here.