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Increasing cost of living is negatively impacting household purchasing power

  • Key Message Update
  • Zimbabwe
  • January 2024
Increasing cost of living is negatively impacting household purchasing power

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In January 2024, households, mainly in typical deficit-producing areas, are increasingly engaging in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes since access to income for market purchases is constrained as the lean season begins to peak. The communal parts of the surplus-producing areas are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to limited household stocks and access to income for market purchases but are generally meeting their basic food needs. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes persist in some productive surplus-producing resettlement areas in the north due to the availability of own-produced 2023 stocks and limited income from crop sales and casual labor. 
    • In January, the ZWL devalued by around 50 percent on the official and parallel markets, the steepest drop since June 2023. The devaluation has driven significant increases in basic food and other commodity prices. Above-normal USD price increases, over 30 percent for some commodities, have also been recorded, partly in response to additional tax measures and increasing production and transportation costs. In January 2024, ZIMSTAT reported that headline annual inflation increased to 34.8 percent, with the ZWL cost of living also rising by around 45 percent in the last month and by about 595 percent compared to January 2023. The devaluation of the ZWL and rapid increase in the cost of living is expected to particularly impact households earning in ZWL, with the rise in USD prices also negatively impacting household purchasing power as the lean season peaks. 
    • Cumulatively average to above-average rainfall from the end of December into January has increased the area planted under crops, but rainfall has been erratic in the south, east, west, and extreme north. The area planted for staple foods remains lower than normal across the country, particularly in the south. The late effective start to the rainy season and generally late plantings across the country have shortened the growing season. Crops range from the early vegetative to early reproductive growth stages. Water and pasture conditions have improved in the central and northern areas, but there have been marginal improvements for some typical low-rainfall areas where livestock conditions, especially cattle, remain poor. 
    • Seasonal agricultural casual labor opportunities and labor rates remain below normal despite general improvements in rainfall. Similarly, livestock sales and incomes are depressed due to poor livestock body conditions and constrained demand, especially in the south and other typical low-rainfall areas. The harvesting, consumption, and sale of seasonal wild produce such as fruits and vegetables are also significantly below normal, with the popular Mopane worms (amacimbi/madora) completely unavailable this December/January season, with availability during the second March/April season also unlikely. Below-normal access to income and ongoing macroeconomic challenges will likely keep poor households’ purchasing power lower than normal, negatively impacting food access through the likely delayed 2024 harvest.  

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Zimbabwe Key Message Update January 2024: Increasing cost of living is negatively impacting household purchasing power, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.

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