Poor harvests and increasing economic hardships lead to high humanitarian assistance needs
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist across much of the country. This is mainly due to depleted household food stocks and to access food households rely on markets with significantly below average purchasing power amidst atypically high and increasing prices. Humanitarian food assistance reached some of the worst drought-affected areas of the country in October. As a result, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are present in some of these areas. The assistance is expected to be scaled-up during the peak of the lean season resulting in Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes continuing in targeted areas.
Critical shortages of foreign currency in the formal sector continue to drive increases in parallel market exchange rates. This is in turn fueling persistent increases in the costs of basic goods and services, including staple foods. By late October, the local currency was valued at approximately 15.5 ZWL/USD on the official interbank market, about 14.0 percent of its value in February 2019, when the interbank market was introduced. This marks over a 520 percent depreciation of the local currency with higher rates on the parallel market. The depreciation of the local currency (RTGS or ZWL) against the USD continues to impact rural and urban purchasing power and livelihoods.
Following the 2018/19 drought, crop production was well below average and the country is faced with a 2019/20 national cereal deficit estimated at over 800,000 MT. The 2019/20 rainfall season is forecast to be below average characterized by a late start and erratic rainfall. This combined with the anticipated widespread poor access to agricultural inputs, will likely lead to below average cropped area. A second consecutive below-average season is expected to result in lower than normal livelihood opportunities, household incomes, and 2020 harvest, driving atypically high assistance needs.