Economic, environmental and political challenges undermine food security in Zimbabwe.
Cash shortages, water logging, drought, crop pests and a shortage of fertilizer threaten agricultural production. Nationally, 92 percent of households in Zimbabwe practice agriculture as their primary livelihood, according to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC).
After multiple years of drought-reduced harvests, increased planting and good rains in 2017 increased agricultural production, reducing the stress on many households. With the lean season beginning in November, ZimVAC projects that roughly 1.1 million rural people will face acute food insecurity during the January-to-March 2018 peak hunger period—a significant decrease from the more than 4.1 million Zimbabweans facing food insecurity in 2017 due to the lingering effects of the 2015/2016 El Niño-induced drought.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) projects that due to limited livelihood activities, reduced incomes and shrinking food stocks, areas in the southern, western and far northern regions are currently experiencing Stressed (IPC 2) and Crisis (IPC 3) levels. Minimal (IPC 1) levels of food insecurity are projected to continue in most northern and high crop producing areas through March 2018.
USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) is the largest donor of emergency food assistance in Zimbabwe, providing $36.3 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. As the El-Niño drought response wound down, the UN World Food Program (WFP) operations shifted to continue helping communities recover from two years of historic drought and other shocks. In partnership with FFP, WFP provides life-saving food assistance through emergency food distributions with U.S. in-kind food aid and locally and regionally procured food, as well as cash-based transfers for food, which allows for a flexible response to the needs of vulnerable populations.
- FFP also supports two five-year development programs through World Vision in Masvingo and Manicaland provinces and Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) in Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces. These programs, begun in 2013, aim to improve the nutritional status of children under five, expand and diversify agricultural production, increase household income, and help communities prepare for disasters through risk-reduction activities. With FFP support, WFP also carries out productive asset creation programs to improve food security and income generation during the dry season. Through food- and cash-for-assets activities, FFP partners strengthen infrastructure—such as dams and irrigation systems—that increase households’ resilience to shocks and gradually reduce the need for seasonal food assistance.