The COVID-19 situation in the country continued to improve leading to the government relaxing most restrictive measures in early September, which enabled households to resume livelihood activities. Although vaccination rates have reduced, they still remain among the highest in Africa.
Central parts of the country received significant amounts of rainfall. Meanwhile, northern and the southern parts of the country are yet to receive significant rainfall amounts; effective rains in these parts are expected to start in December.
Annual inflation was pegged at 54% in October, which is a marginal increase from 52% recorded in September 2021. Meanwhile, month-on-month inflation increased from 5% to 6%, and monthly food inflation increased from 5% to 8%.
During the month of October, the estimated number of people with insufficient food consumption increased by 100,000 to reach 5.9 million. The number of people employing crisis and above coping strategies also increased to 8.9 million people compared to 8.53 million at the end of September 2021. These findings are typical at the start of the lean season, when households begin to deplete their own food stocks and increase reliance on markets.
Maize grain availability remained low - the commodity was reported as available in only 7% of the rural markets and 6% of the urban markets. While low market availability is typical at this time of the year, it has been further limited due to centralised marketing by government through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB). Market supply of maize meal reported in October was typical for this time of the year and the commodity was generally available in most monitored urban markets (88%), while in rural areas the commodity was reported available in 33% of monitored markets—which is a 16% decrease from the previous month.
Sugar beans market supply remained generally stable, the commodity was available in 64% of rural markets and in 86% of monitored urban markets. Availability of vegetable oil remained high and stable with the commodity available in 94% of the rural markets and 92% of urban markets. Rice, salt and sugar remained available in almost all the markets monitored, and Kapenta was available in an average 69% of the markets.
In local currency (ZWL) terms, there was a general price increase for all commodities during the month under review - a confirmation of the rising inflation. Compared to September, prices in ZWL terms increased for all monitored commodities by an average of 9%, and when compared to the same time last year (October 2020) prices increased by an average of 47%.
Average USD prices for maize grain, maize meal and vegetable oil remained stable in comparison to September, while that of sugar beans increased by 10%. The US$ price for rice, kapenta and sugar decreased by 5% for both rural and urban markets, while salt prices increased by 17%.