GIEWS Update: Zimbabwe - Extreme levels of food insecurity triggered by a reduced 2019 harvest and high prices that have acutely impeded access to food (14 October 2019)



• The number of food insecure people in Zimbabwe is projected to rise to 5.5 million people between January and March 2020, which would be the highest number on record.

• The heightened food insecurity is mainly the result of a cereal production shortfall and extremely high food prices, while macroeconomic difficulties have exacerbated the situation.

Zimbabwe is facing extreme levels of food insecurity and the situation is likely to deteriorate in the coming months. According to the latest Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s (VAC) evaluation, an estimated 4.7 million people are in need of food assistance between October and December 2019. This number is projected to rise to 5.5 million people during the January to March 2020 period, which would be the highest number on record. The severe food insecurity levels are mainly driven by a steep reduction in the 2019 domestic cereal harvest and significantly high food prices that have resulted in severe food access constraints. In addition, economic difficulties have hampered the country’s ability to access grains from the international market, with further adverse effects on domestic availabilities and prices.

Sharp reduction in the 2019 cereal production due to poor weather conditions

The country experienced adverse weather conditions during the 2018/19 cropping season (October-June), including extreme rainfall deficits and the impact of Cyclone Idai. The combined effect of these events caused a steep decline in the area harvested and lowered yields, resulting in a maize output of about 780 000 tonnes, more than 40 percent below the previous five-year average (see Figure 1). Downscaled to the household level, cereal stocks have consequently been depleted earlier than normal, and incomes derived from agricultural activities have also declined.