Rainfall distribution was poor in space and time across the country except for the northern parts of Mashonaland Central and parts of Mashonaland East. According to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC), Crop production for the 2015/2016 cropping season, declined comparatively to the 2014/2015 cropping season mainly due to inadequate rainfall (source: 2nd round crop and livestock assessment, 2015). The main contributing factor to the increase of food insecurity was a halving in maize production compared to the previous harvest year resulting in an associated cereal deficit of 650,000 MT, not including the 350,000 MT required for livestock and industrial purposes. The ZimVAC reported that the lean season had commenced earlier than usual in most areas with Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Masvingo provinces having the highest proportions of households likely to be affected by food insecurity in the 2015/2016 consumption year.
This food insecurity predominantly has resulted from a loss of production, mainly due to prolonged dry spells of over 60 days particularly in the southern and south-eastern parts of the country. The rainfall distribution pattern was poor both in space and time across the country with the exception of the northern parts of Mashonaland Central and parts of Mashonaland East. This loss of production has also had knock-on effects like the loss of household income from decreased labour opportunities in the agricultural sector.
To further exacerbate the situation, diminished remittances have had a negative impact on household food security and it is expected that there will be further constraints on remittances in coming. According to (FEWSNET), the economic outlook is of concern in Zimbabwe with a decline in economic growth and a high rate of company closures and retrenchments.This will particularly affect the southern areas.
Based on extrapolations of the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVac) results of 2015, approximately 1.5 million Zimbabweans (16% of rural households) are likely to be unable to meet their food needs during the 2015/2016 hunger season. (462,000) during the second quarter of the consumption year and (1,490,024) during the peak hunger season running from January-March, 2016, This represents a rise of 160% compared to those facing food insecurity during the 2014/2015 hunger season. While the drought has impacted the entire country, the districts (sub-provincial) with the highest projections for food insecurity are Matabeleland North worst affected (28% at peak), followed by Midlands (18%), Matabeleland South and Masvingo (17%).
The greatest impact of the food insecurity will be felt in the marginal areas predominantly in natural regions 4 and 5 where rainfall is erratic and there is low agricultural potential. Given that farmers will not be able to put aside seed stocks and may not be able to repay credits already received, the drought could also impact on food production in the next agricultural season especially among vulnerable populations.
It should be noted that there is a poor outlook for the 2015/2016 harvest season with 90% chance of El Niño in the Southern Africa region likely to result in further rainfall deficiencies (Source: FEWSNET). This outlook makes the support to resilience-building approaches even more crucial.
While the Government of Zimbabwe has not declared an emergency, a number of Ministries have requested urgent assistance from humanitarian and development partners.
The response aims to cover 1.4 million people in 52 districts, with the hardest hit districts prioritised. Activities will focus on responding to urgent needs of the food insecure population while looking to transition them to more resilient strategies. The implementation will be for a period of 12 months with most of the life saving interventions finishing before March 2016.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.