Humanitarian Bulletin: Zimbabwe, 01 – 31 July 2012

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Rural people in need of food assistance in the 2012/13 peak hunger season have increased by 60 per cent compared to 2011/12.

  • Two provinces are already in the crisis food insecurity phase.

  • Partners are concerned at the high number of child rape survivors reported in July.

  • Fresh typhoid outbreak erupts in Chitungwiza.

Zimbabwe’s Food Security Deteriorating

More than 1.6 million in need of food assistance

Humanitarian partners have warned of a deteriorating food security situation in Zimbabwe. Results of the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) rural livelihoods assessment, released in July 2012, project that about 1,668,000 people– 60 per cent more than last year, will be food insecure in the peak hunger season from January to March 2013.

This figure represents 19 per cent of rural households. According to ZimVAC, food insecurity in the country is comparably worse than the last three years, a situation it attributes to late and erratic rainfall. Worst affected areas are Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South and parts of Mashonaland, Midlands and Manicaland provinces.
ZimVAC is a multi-agency Government-led rural livelihood assessment conducted annually to determine the level of food insecurity within the country.

A comparison of the May 2011 and May 2012 Coping Strategy Index (CSI) shows that food access was relatively more difficult this year compared to last year at both national and provincial level. Further, WFP also reports that by July 2012, its sub-offices had started reporting signs of distress, high prices and empty granaries - pointing to an increasingly critical situation as food is normally available at this time and coping strategies usually start in October and November.

In response, food assistance partners are preparing to meet the growing needs of the people through the Seasonal Targeted Assistance (STA) programme likely to start in September 2012 and end in March 2013. Drawing from the ZimVAC, indications are that the STA in the coming peak hunger season will be implemented on a larger scale than last year. This will be done through a combination of in-kind food distributions with regionally procured cereals, and cash transfers or voucher interventions where appropriate. In some areas, WFP will provide "Cash for Cereals", where beneficiaries receive cash to purchase cereals from local markets. This affords people more flexibility and choice, while strengthening local markets. However, while WFP has enough resources to start the programme, more money is needed to sustain it. The programme, which has been budgeted at $119 million, is currently facing a shortfall of about $87 million.

[Sources: Food Assistance Working Group and Agriculture Cluster]

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