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International food and commodity price hikes drive sharp increases in cost of living

  • Key Message Update
  • Zimbabwe
  • March 2022
International food and commodity price hikes drive sharp increases in cost of living

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As the lean season continues into March, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are persisting across deficit-producing areas with Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes present where humanitarian assistance is significant. Meanwhile, reserves from above-average 2021 harvests are currently resulting in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in surplus-producing areas, which are likely to continue throughout the outlook period. However, as the 2022 harvests are largely expected to be below normal, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are anticipated through September in most deficit-producing areas, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes emerging in worst-affected areas by July. Urban areas are likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) throughout the outlook period due to below normal income and above-average prices.

    • Crop conditions in northern surplus-producing areas improved somewhat with rainfall in the second half of March. However, crop loss is significant nationally, with maize write-offs of more than 50 percent reported in some eastern, southern, and western districts worst affected by recent dryness. Poor and erratic rainfall will also negatively impact water availability in these areas during the upcoming dry season. On the other hand, pastures have seen some regeneration and livestock body conditions are fair to good in most farming sectors, despite a high prevalence of disease.

    • Disruptions to international markets related to the conflict in Ukraine have caused significant fuel prices fluctuations in Zimbabwe in March. In response, regulatory authorities have begun adjusting prices on a weekly, as opposed to monthly, basis. Both petrol and diesel have risen 10 percent since February, while maize grain, maize meal, wheat flour, and bread prices have all risen by about 15 percent, contributing to increased cost of living and negatively impacting mainly low-income households. This is compounded by continued increases in official and parallel market exchange rates, which have gone up 15 percent and between 5 and 10 percent, respectively, since February. ZIMSTAT reported March monthly and annual inflation rates at 6.3 and 72.7 percent, respectively; the cost of living as measured by national poverty lines increased by about 6 percent in March compared to February.

    • Seasonal labor continues to be significantly below normal in most areas given the poor progression of the agricultural season. Meanwhile, despite the reopening of land borders, cross-border trade and related livelihoods remain below normal levels, due in part to COVID-19 test and vaccination requirements. Lower-income households in particular lack the capital to quickly restart these livelihood activities.

    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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