Erratic and poorly distributed rainfall in Zimbabwe for two years has resulted in a severe drought affecting the Provinces of Matabeleland North and South. The same eastern region is yet to recover from unprecedented flooding from Cyclones Idai and Kenneth. Approximately 100,000 children are estimated to be suffering from acute malnutrition in affected areas in Matabeleland North and South provinces.
There is currently an absence of staple maize meal in the country, creating a dire situation and leaving vulnerable communities in need of food assistance. According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet), international forecasting models confirm that “the start of the 2019/20 rainy season has been erratic, with early season deficits and international forecasts all indicating January to March 2020 rainfall expected to fall below average.”
The 2018/19 rainfall season was among the worst on record in parts of the country characterized by significantly below-average rainfall with drought conditions across much of the country. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), estimates that in 2019, more than 7.7 million people — half the population — faced food insecurity at the peak of the lean season (OctoberDecember), as poor rains and erratic weather patterns had a negative impact on crop harvests and livelihood prospects earlier in the year.
There is an acute need for water as a growing number of traditional community water points have dried out and cannot meet the minimum water depend. As the year progresses, the situation will further deteriorate since the major water bodies are 50% full despite January being the peak season for rain in Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe National Water Authority are below 50% full-ZINWA). Zimbabwe water scarcity is bound to affect both animals and human beings resulting in household water insecurity as water for domestic and livestock use has gone to critical levels. Since water points for agriculture and livestock have been depleted, there has been increased unplanned migration of people and livestock.
Death of Livestock
Increased livestock deaths and human-wild-life conflict have been reported in Matebeleland North and South in areas that are bordering game parks. This is due to unavailability of pasture, a sharp increase of the cost of stock feed, and increased agricultural input prices. As a result, livestock disease outbreaks have recurred. The drought has also killed more than 200 elephants according to the guardian, (The guardian, Nov 2019) due to a lack of water at the country’s main conservation zones in Mana Pools and Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.