Zimbabwe: Emergency food security and vulnerability assessment - Report No. 3


This emergency food security assessment is regionally coordinated by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Food, Agriculture, and Natural resources (FANR) Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC), in collaboration with international partners (WFP, FEWS NET, SC (UK), FAO, UNICEF and IFRC.

The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) - a subcommittee of the Social Services Cabinet Action Committee (SSCAC) composed of a consortium of government, NGO and UN Agencies, coordinated the assessments at national level. This is the third and last round of a series of rolling food security assessments which first started in August 2002 and were subsequently conducted in December 2002 in six SADC countries affected by the food crisis in the region.

The VAC assessment strategy has two principal axes. First, it uses a sequential process of ' best practices' in assessment and monitoring, drawn from the extensive and varied experience of the VAC partners, to meet a broad range of critical information needs at both the spatial and social targeting levels. The sequential nature of the approach not only provides richer details of the 'access side' of the food security equation, but adds the very important temporal dimension as well. From an operational (i.e. response) perspective, the latter is critical. Second, by approaching food security from a coordinated, collaborative process, the strategy integrates the most influential assessment and response players into the ongoing effort, thereby gaining privileged access to national and agency datasets and expert technicians and increases the likelihood of consensus between national governments, implementing partners, and major donors. This 'partnering' strategy linked the major players and stakeholders including regional institutions, national governments, response agencies, NGOs and donors in on-going, intensive 'rolling' assessment coverage of food security conditions on the ground.

Zimbabwe Emergency Food Security Highlights for 2003/04

1. The VAC assessment confirms the need for continued food aid for 4.4 million rural population lower than the 5.2 million people who benefited from food aid programs last year.

2. There is need for Government and the NGOs to import about 754,800 MT of cereals in 2003/04 marketing year to fill in the food gap, which excludes the Strategic Grain Reserve. This is much lower than about 1.323 million MT imported last year.

3. During the peak period of need, a total of 4.4 million people in rural areas (56% of the rural population) will require 388,600 MT of food aid between April 2003 and March 2004. The areas requiring initial food aid are those in the southwestern and western districts of the country, spreading to almost the whole country.

4. From April to June a total of 792,000 people would require food aid mainly in the southwestern and western districts of the country and a total of 28,000 MT of maize has to be distributed. The number in need would increase to 2.2 million between July and September, covering almost the whole country except the prime grain producing areas of Mashonaland provinces, a total of 80,000 MT of maize is required for the period. From October through December 3.4 million people will require emergency food assistance, rising to 4.4 million people during the most critical months from January through March 2004.

5. At the peak of the anticipated food shortages (from January 2004), 62% of the communal population (3,568,000 people), 37% of the old resettlement population (174,400 people) and the remainder of 618,800 people) from the A1 resettlement and commercial farm workers of which, 30 % of the A1 resettled farmers and 21% of the commercial farm workers population will be in need of food aid.

6. Limited availability of maize in the market was a major problem in the year from April 2002 to March 2003. However, although still inadequate, provinces were able to meet over 60% of their cereal requirements.

7. Food security in Zimbabwe will continue to be heavily affected by the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS (34% of population), high inflation rates (228% in March 2003), limited maize availability, high parallel market prices for maize, and unemployment which will undermine access to income.

8. The most food insecure communal households are the poor who are characterized by female headed households (of which 70% of these households require food aid compared to 58 % of the male headed households), households who lost the head through chronic illness, households under stress, including households headed by elderly females and large households with more than 7 people.

9. The HIV/AIDS pandemic will continue to undermine food security as an estimated 2 million adults were living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2001. The HIV/AIDS prevalence increases food insecurity and on the other hand food insecurity increases the likelihood of HIV infection and accelerates the transition from HIV to AIDS.

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